Two communities in northeastern Wisconsin are merging fire departments. It's part of a slowly growing trend toward shared services.
People who work at the village of Allouez's fire department are becoming employees of the city of Green Bay. The two are merging fire and emergency departments.
Village president Steve Vanden Avond says the 15 year agreement will save between $90,000 and $200,000 per year, "Well it's the end of 40 years of the Allouez fire department. It marks the beginning of a strong and meaningful collaboration between the village of Allouez and city of Green Bay."
Seventeen thousand people live in Allouez--which is adjacent to Green Bay, which has a population of 106,000.
According to the director of the League of Wisconsin Municipalities, Dan Thompson, fire departments have more attractive economies of scale than other services like garbage pick -up or road maintenance. Still, he says public resistance often hampers agreements like that taking place between Green Bay and Alllouez.
Jim Schmitt, mayor of Green Bay, indicated that public resistance spilt over into the city council chamber. It took two years of negotiations to work out the agreement, "It's the political process that sometimes gets in the way on a number of things. We're blessed right now to have very cooperative governments and I think we'll begin to see these things happen in the next few years."
The merger is expected to be completed by early next month.