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Columbus Mayor, Township Trustee to Discuss Fire Consolidation

Though he says it’s not his budget to craft, Columbus’s mayor says he understands concerns the Columbus Township Trustee may be overspending for services.

Columbus Fire Station

Photo: chicagogeek (flickr)

Columbus's mayor says his city's fire department may be able to help the Columbus Township Fire Department save money.

Though he says it’s not his budget to craft, Columbus’s mayor says he understands concerns the Columbus Township Trustee may be overspending for services.

As municipal budgets have contracted across Indiana, the watchword for fiscal hawks has been “consolidation”.  In other words, if parallel services exist in a city and county – or in a city and a township – the thinking goes that combining them can save money without sacrificing services.  So when questions were raised recently about how much money Bartholomew County’s Columbus Township – which encompasses much of the city of Columbus – was spending on fire protection, Mayor Fred Armstrong debated whether to weigh in.

“There are some things that I feel that we could partner in to reduce that budget if they’re willing to work with us,” Armstrong said. “Our fire department, I think, could handle most of the areas that aren’t covered.”

But Columbus Township Trustee Fred Barkes said this is a conversation he’s had three or four times before, with little to show for it.  And after talking to Armstrong Wednesday, Barkes said it’s a conversation he’s preparing to have again next week.  So does he expect this talk to go any differently?

“No I don’t, but we’re open to any type of suggestion,” he said.

Barkes said he disagrees with the mayor’s assessment that the city’s six fire stations are capable of addressing runs on the outskirts of town, in addition to the runs they already make.  The mayor said he and Barkes will meet with city fire chief Gary Henderson, who has previously told the mayor consolidation may be an option.

Stan Jastrzebski

WFIU/WTIU News Senior Editor Stan Jastrzebski spent time as a reporter with WGN Radio in Chicago and as an editor at Network Indiana, an Indianapolis news service. Stan is the winner of awards from the Associated Press, the RTDNA, the Indiana Broadcasters Association and the Society of Professional Journalists. He hosts WFIU's Ask the Mayor and anchors WTIU's InFocus.

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  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_X2KCZ3L26SHXYPGMK632WLLOZM Boots

    Consolidation is the right thing to do, however you do have six firefighters that are full time employees of the township that bear consideration. By absorbing those six employees, pending completion and passing of Phyiscal Agility testing, would be the right thing to do. Mayor Armstrong needs to do the right thing and be open to the concerns of the Township Trustee, while the Trustee also needs to listen to the concerns of the Mayor. There is middle ground on this issue, both sides need to throw politics out and do the right thing.

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