Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Rep. Long: Multiple public services wastes scarce revenue

LEALMAN — Making perhaps the strongest public statement yet by an elected official in favor of countywide consolidation, state Rep. Janet Long says the public safety system in Pinellas County drives her crazy and needs to be changed.

"I'm really irritated with the system," said Long, D-Seminole.

Having 19 fire departments and 24 cities with multiple police departments is wasteful and costly, Long said during last Wednesday's meeting of the Lealman Community Association. She reiterated some of her comments during an interview Friday.

Spending money unnecessarily is especially bad in these tough economic times, she said. And there is no need to have multiple departments when they're all delivering the same service.

"A sworn law officer is a sworn law officer. They carry a gun and a badge," Long said. The only dissimilarity between departments is "a different paint job" on their cars.

Similarly, all firefighters/paramedics in the county receive the same training and have the same abilities. The difference there, she said, is some fire districts pay more for the same service than do others.

"It's such a waste. It is such a waste," Long said. "It drives me insane."

Consolidating services, she said, could save millions and "just makes so much sense. ... I can't help that there was poor planning way back when, but we know better now."

Long's comments come at a time when Pinellas County officials are embarking on a study of the emergency medical system. Eight companies have submitted proposals for the study, which is expected to be finished next fall.

Pinellas County Administrator Bob LaSala said the winner's marching orders will be to start with a blank slate. That could eventually mean a recommendation that could completely transform the county's current EMS system.

The EMS study has reignited talk of countywide consolidation of fire services. LaSala, who also spoke at the LCA meeting, said he could see some savings if services are consolidated. But, he cautioned, having the county or another entity impose consolidation on cities and fire departments would not work.

Imposing change, he said, would cause consolidation to become a "political football where you've just inflamed special interests."

It's best if the various stakeholders — cities, unions, fire districts — come voluntarily to the table, he said.

That could happen in the near future, he said. The bad economy, which has caused governments at all levels to slash budgets and services, will likely drive everyone to the negotiating table.

Anne Lindberg can be reached at alindberg@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8450.

Rep. Long: Multiple public services wastes scarce revenue 10/10/09 [Last modified: Saturday, October 10, 2009 4:30am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Gators rally past Kentucky, streak hits 31

    Blogs

    LEXINGTON, Ky. — For the second week in a row, Florida found itself storming the field in a game that came down to the last second. A 57-yard field-goal attempt by Kentucky kicker Austin MacGinnis came just a few feet short of making history and snapping a 30-year losing streak, as the No. 20 Gators escaped a …

    Florida wide receiver Brandon Powell (4) scores a touchdown during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Kentucky, Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017, in Lexington, Ky.
  2. Pen makes it way too interesting as Rays hang on for 9-6 win

    Blogs

    A couple of home runs provided the news pegs of the night for the Rays, but it was more topical to talk about what nearly happened as they hung on for a 9-6 win over the Orioles.

    Lucas Duda's three-run homer in the third inning was the Rays' record-breaking 217th of the season, as well as his …

  3. An attempt to project what Rays will look like in 2018

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — We know what the Rays look like this year: a team that had enough talent but too many flaws, in construction and performance, and in the next few days will be officially eliminated from a wild-card race it had a chance to win but let slip away.

    Adeiny Hechavarria, high-fiving Lucas Duda, seems likely to be brought back.
  4. Trump fallout: Bucs' DeSean Jackson to make 'statement' Sunday

    Bucs

    Bucs receiver DeSean Jackson said Saturday that he will make a "statement" before today's game against the Vikings in response to President Donald Trump's comment that owners should "fire" players who kneel in protest during the national anthem.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver DeSean Jackson (11) makes a catch during the first half of an NFL game between the Chicago Bears and Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla., on Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017.
  5. Kriseman invites Steph Curry to St. Pete on Twitter

    Blogs

    Mayor Rick Kriseman is no stranger to tweaking President Donald Trump on social media.

    Mayor Rick Kriseman took to Twitter Saturday evening to wade into President Donald Trump's latest social media scuffle