Koutsogiane: Districts' merger is best option

Koutsogiane: Districts' merger is best option

I am writing this letter in support of the efforts that are being made for the future consolidation of all of the Cumberland fire districts. As a concerned resident of the town of Cumberland and as the current chairperson of the North Cumberland Fire District (NCFD) Board of Trustees, I believe it is in the best interests of all its citizens that the present four independent districts merge into one.

The details of the implementation of the consolidation, however, have taken and will take a great amount of time and effort by many people to finalize. I recognize the efforts put forth by all of the current districts to control and review their budgets. Indeed, the North Cumberland Fire District and the Valley Falls Fire District share one fire chief and one deputy chief between them. Additionally, the duties of the fire inspectors for these two districts are now assumed by our shared chief and deputy chief. These positions had previously been separate, paid positions.

The sharing of fire equipment is also part of these two districts' efforts to control costs and provide better service. The fire districts have drafted preliminary legislation, by-laws and a charter for the merged fire districts. There also have been ongoing talks with the firefighters' unions to work out one collective bargaining agreement for the town. As a result of these discussions, the current staff has expressed grave concern about job security. I support the goal of consolidation of the four fire districts with the aim of delivering safe and reliable service to all residents while also achieving long term cost benefits.

Phillip Koutsogiane

Cumberland

Editor's Note: Mr. Koutsogiane is writing this letter as an individual, not as a representative of the North Cumberland Fire District Board of Trustees.