By J.D. Loden
Kevin Garrity’s guest commentary on Sunday regarding the recent East Naples-Golden Gate fire district consolidation clearly shows the tremendous gap between the public sector and the private sector.
The most expensive cost for both sectors is people — defined by their wages and benefits.
When mergers occur in the private sector, synergies are created that often result in lower cost for materials and services through volume discounts. Companies eliminate systems that are more costly and merge them into one consistent platform for the new combined entity.
Unfortunately, these means people are often terminated.
It appears that fire district consolidation is neither an amalgation (combining two organizations into one), or absorption (larger organization absorbing the smaller firm). It is a joint venture, where two organizations agree to allocate some of their resources in an attempt to achieve some savings.
While I applaud their effort to combine their training, administrative/financial duties and vehicle maintenance, these savings will be nominal.
Gerrity is quoted as saying that “training is being combined by Captains Rusty Godette and Andrea Schultz.”
Meaningful savings will only occur if duplicated positions are eliminated in the administrative and management levels. There is no mention of a reduction in staff. Is there any consideration of combining the boards for each district, and reducing the overall head count at that level?
Private sector management has a mission to create “shareholder value.” If the elected fire commissioners really cared about “shareholder value,” the taxpayer; it would require many of them to give up their position. If meaningful and effective efficiencies are to be achieved, Collier County would have one fire district and one board.
I’ve never heard anyone suggest that having one sheriff for our county is inefficient. The Sheriff’s Office has a budget that is substantially larger, and the operations of a Sheriff’s Office is many times more complicated and dynamic then that of a fire department.
I respect the dedication and service of our firemen and women. Elimination of the bureaucracy at these districts will free up resources for equipment, and training that saves lives.