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Possible EMS Merger

Posted by Heather Black | July 31, 2012 / 06:52pm | Local News
LOWNDES COUNTY (WCBI) Changes *could* be one the way for emergency service in Columbus and Lowndes County.

At this morning's Lowndes County Supervisors meeting, Board President Harry Sanders brought up a potential merger of all county fire and emergency services under one umbrella, answering to Columbus fire chief ken Moore. Sanders thinks the move could save tax dollars and lives while possibly improving rural fire service and saving property owners money.

"This is not consolidation, this is actually just trying to figure out where we can have some improvements in the emergency responders," said Harry Sanders.

But District 5 Supervisor Leroy Brooks says Sanders went behind people's backs by having the discussion with Moore before talking to any county department heads. And he says other studies don't point to any real savings or improved services. Instead, he says it'll only add another layer of bureaucracy.

"I don't know if there is any benefit at all. I am a student of public administration and my training taught me it's a process, there has been no process, no discussion so I don't know whether it merits consolidation or not and that was my whole argument. You can't say we are going to consolidate unless you do your homework and at this point no homework was done.," said Leroy Brooks.

Under Sanders' proposal, county fire, E-M-A, and 9-1-1 directors would report to Moore, who has extensive homeland security and fire experience. The idea is to try to lower county fire ratings and streamline other services. But 9-1-1 Director Sherry Fancher says that's not necessary.

"I have a board of commissioners that I answer to, but as far as disasters in Columbus or Lowndes County I already work with Columbus fire and rescue, I work very closely with emergency management as well as the Lowndes county Sheriffs department and Columbus police department. So when there is a disaster we are already under one umbrella," said Sherry Fancher.

Supervisors came to no conclusion other than to talk some more. But it faces hurdles.

"I don't think putting a person in through a county employee is the answer. We have to first analyze, figure out what the problem is I just think as a hair trigger approach to doing something and I'm just not for it," said Brooks.

"I just threw something out there for discussion something that we need to talk about something that possibly could improve the quality of life in Lowndes County and especially in an emergency," said Sanders.
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