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Town Square

Consolidation - an idea whose time has come?

Original post made by peter carpenter, Atherton: Lindenwood, on Nov 7, 2010

There have been a number of Town Forum Threads on consolidation. Is now the time to act before our local agencies face bankruptcy? Should we be wise and courageous and proactive or should we simply wait until things actually fall apart?

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Comments

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Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Nov 7, 2010 at 3:25 pm

I agree 100% It is Time for Consolidation before being forced.


Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 7, 2010 at 5:16 pm

Some more related threads:

Web Link

Web Link



Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 8, 2010 at 2:37 pm

On another thread this very pertinent comment was posted:
Posted by WhoRUpeople, a resident of another community, 31 minutes ago

Peter, with due respect and acknowledgment of your service in PA and the fire district, I have to ask you a question before we start a dialog regarding the merits/barriers to any consolidation initiatives between PA and MP. What do you see are the incentives for Palo Alto (not Menlo Park) to consolidate services with either Menlo Park or Menlo Park Fire? I fully realize that often consolidation of services between cities/agencies bring financial incentives, but I'm thinking also about quality of services. Menlo Park Fire has an excellent reputation, but so does PA Fire. I don't know whether PA's HR department is good or bad, but from what I've heard/read, I would guess they have to be better than Menlo Park's HR. Where do you see the quid pro quo lying? As the old song went, it takes two to tango.

*****
My response - Both MPFPD and PA have excellent fire departments but bewteen them they have two chiefs, two deputies, many battalion chiefs and numerous other overhead positions - in a merged department half of these would go away. The two departments have a very long common border which leads to suboptimal station location and staffing on the two sides of that border. For example PA's SLAC station is much better positioned to serve Sand Hill Road than is MPFPD's Station 4 on the Alameda. For the sam amount of total expenditure all of the covered citizens could get much better coverage or they could get the same coverage as they currently have for significantly less money.

In my corporate and government experience things like finance and HR are fungible and a good finance office or HR office could serve both communities with fewer people that the combined current staffs and, I suspect, do a better job given the economies of scale.


Like this comment
Posted by R.Gordon
a resident of another community
on Nov 8, 2010 at 7:00 pm

R.Gordon is a registered user.

Eventually, it took someone with Peter's years of service to realize that the entire Bay Area is actually hanging by a thread.
Rich people will not enjoy seeing poverty around them..or crime, or released criminals from jails we can no longer afford.
It is time to think more like Bill and Melinda and I hate saying this, but I knew from running casual discussions in Sacramento and San Francisco, with the likes of Newsom, and especially our governor, that it was just too plain to see what Peter is describing.
It is a new world for Americans and especially those of us who deem any kind of superiority. Education and Humanity are also involved; or are actually the motivating factors all have chosen to ignore.


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Posted by James
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Nov 8, 2010 at 11:04 pm

It's time that government look for more efficient ways to operate and save taxpayer dollars. We should look at many more options than fire services; how about law enforcement and schools to name a couple. Do you realize that there are at least 25 public school districts in San Mateo Co. each with its own superintendent? And how many police chiefs are there?

With these municipalities looking at tightening their budgets and services, why aren't leaders willing to consider consolidation instead of raising taxes?


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Posted by WhoRUpeople
a resident of another community
on Nov 9, 2010 at 9:18 am

James, "...why aren't leaders willing to consider consolidation instead of raising taxes".
I am a big supporter of consolidating services. The hard part isn't doing analysis that would show that savings are possible without sacrificing services. The hard part is getting people to be willing to share control. It is true that if two police departments merged, you would only need one chief. It is true that if two cities or school districts merged their entire administrative function, you would only need one superintendent/manager. Etc, etc. etc. However, how do you get the people in those positions motivated to do anything other than look for barriers when their livelyhood is directly affected? The same thing holds true at the political level. City/County councils/boards won't readily embrace such initiatives; unless or until, of course, the wolf is at the door. Multiply all the perocial issues existing between two cities like Menlo Park and Palo Alto, by the fact that each are in different counties, and the barriers become even more exacerbated.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 9, 2010 at 1:32 pm

WhoRUpeople states:"However, how do you get the people in those positions motivated to do anything other than look for barriers when their livelyhood is directly affected? The same thing holds true at the political level. City/County councils/boards won't readily embrace such initiatives; unless or until, of course, the wolf is at the door."

Guess what folks, the wolf is inside the house but the residents hear no wolf, see no wolf, speak no wolf.