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New Report Shows Inefficiencies in 2003 Merger

An outside consulting firm made recommendations to Louisville’s Merger 2.0 Task Force subcommittee on data and communications on Thursday, and some of the recommendations have been controversial in the county.

The subcommittee reviewed the report from Public Works, LLC. Public Works, which was paid through a $30,000 grant to complete 100 hours research for Metro Government.  In the end, the consulting firm recommended that Louisville Metro, again, combines Fire and EMS.

After researching the top 20 most populated cities’ fire and EMS systems, 14 have a combined system, said Marion Reitz with Public Works, LLC. Reitz said that the “bottom line” was that the separate operations don’t seem as cost efficient.

Jeffersontown Fire Chief Randy Lawson attended the meeting. He’s concerned that the report doesn’t reflect the opinions his subcommittee of Fire and EMS, he said. But this report is just one tool that both subcommittees and the final Task Force can use to make recommendation, said Hesen.

“These are all pieces of information that we will be sharing with the other subcommittees and the full task force,” said chair of the subcommittee Ellen Hesen.

The report also explored the idea of creating Metro Government staff that could write federal and state grants for projects most counties will already complete but not apply for. It also recommends reviewing the counties solid waste services. Those in the Urban Services District pay around $5 less than 15 of the reported suburban districts’ average.

The subcommittee also suggested better record keeping and data transparency and said the county may want to consider using the Jefferson County League of Cities to hold more consistent data for all 83 Jefferson County cities.

The target date is Sept. 16 for the Task Force to hear subcommittee recommendations. It will then be the responsible for making its final recommendations to Mayor Greg Fischer.

Fischer will need to write any new legislation by the end of the year.

Click here to see a copy of the report.

Click here to see more information on Metro Fire and EMS.

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Fire and EMS Continue to Look for Common Ground in Subcommittee

Louisville’s Merger 2.0 Task Force subcommittee on fire and EMS met on Tuesday. As the Oct. 1 deadline for recommendations nears, the two departments are struggling to find common ground.

The subcommittee meeting was at times contentious. Fire and EMS have different opinions on how to proceed with the conversation about possible changes to either agency.

Fire officials said they want to look at data and different models that might shed some light on how to be more efficient. EMS said the subcommittee doesn’t have the time or the information to make any major recommendations, such as a merger.

“It might be reasonable to ask an external group to come in who has got serious expertise in this. Everybody here has expertise but this is a pretty time consuming project,” said Dr. Neal Richmond, the director of Louisville Metro EMS.

Richmond said it’s a difficult project to take on with the amount of time and resources the subcommittee has.

Both departments agree that public safety and patient care is a top priority. But the logistics and decisions behind how to operate was sometimes at odds. Members from both sides did recommend improving communication and suggested offering similar technology to all departments so that accountability was consistent.

Each subcommittee member will prepare five suggestions for both fire and EMS at the next meeting on Aug. 23. They will also continue to review data and information, and search for areas where the departments can be more efficient.

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Merger 2.0 Task Force Meets for Progress Reports

The Louisville Merger 2.0 Task Force met in full on Friday. It brought together the five subcommittees for progress reports.

The task force was formed in January to review the 2003 merger between county and city governments.

The public safety and data and communications subcommittees reported a good response from public surveys that were sent out earlier this month. A phone survey about the merger was organized through public works research. Almost everyone that was called wanted to participate, said officials.

The subcommittees will continue to meet until Sept. 1, when a first round of suggestions are expected to be reported.

Subcommittees would not comment on any recommendations they have prior to Oct 1, when the Task Force is expected to report to the mayor.

The mayor’s office says actions on Merger 2.0 Task Force recommendations are tentatively scheduled for Dec. 15.