In today’s government, especially at the local level, the demand for enhanced services and reduced taxes remains the standard bearer. As city leaders, we must look introspectively into our daily actions and cast aside old actions that no longer serve the community purpose.

The local media has recently reported our efforts to evaluate our emergency communications “dispatch” operations. Some have offered their opinions and insights, others their concerns and yet others, a warning. Yet, we would be remiss if we did not “Challenge the Status Quo.”

We have determined that the only sure method for public safety officials and decision makers to know what type of fiscal savings and benefits a proposed consolidation or outsourced services will provide is to commission a comprehensive feasibility study by an independent contractor. Potential benefits might include budget savings, improved and faster communications, better coordination between agencies and agency partners, access to more advanced emergency communication systems, technology, and standardized protocols that could help eliminate mistakes. We may also find, as a result of our study, that our best option is to continue a solo emergency communication center, but with refinements, adjustments and with a trajectory for the future.

Our study is designed to ask the hard questions, to evaluate current and future needs and to determine the best method by which we can ensure the public safety and protect our first responders in an effective and efficient manner. At the conclusion of our study, the findings will be released and we, collectively, under the direction of the mayor and City Council, can determine that which will best serve our community. By the way, did you know that our Fire Department is dispatched out of Phoenix? Yes, they have provided this service to our community and many others for many years. We too, recently, reviewed this service and concluded that it was in the best interest of our citizens and fire personnel to continue to outsource this service.

Please stay tuned. When the study is complete, we will ask that you share your thoughts.

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Rick Horst is city manager of Maricopa.

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