Michael J. Sorba, Staff Writer
Posted: 07/29/2010 04:00:12 PM PDT

COLTON – After viewing audit presentations of both departments, the City Council has decided against seeking cost proposals from outside agencies to outsource for police and fire services.

Instead, it has elected to direct City Manager Rod Foster to develop a cost-cutting and revenue enhancing plan with the police and fire chiefs.

“I feel the council spoke 5-2 in that they’re not interested in disbanding their public safety and the health and safety of our families can’t be compromised,” said Councilman Vincent Yzaguirre.

Yzaguirre made the motion preceding the council’s 5-2 vote on Tuesday directing Foster to formulate the plan. Foster says suggestions in the audits will help improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the departments, and both chiefs will be tapped for ideas.

The audits provided estimated costs to contract with the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, the county Fire Department and the estimated price of forming a joint powers agreement with surrounding cities for fire services.

They also included a variety of suggestions to streamline operations, improve efficiency and create income and save money.

Yzaguirre said he considered the potential cost savings of outsourcing the audits provided, but decided those savings didn’t warrant seeking proposals from the agencies.

Five council members did not support a motion made by Councilwoman Deirdre Bennett to request cost proposals from the county agencies as well as surrounding cities for the joint powers agreement.

Bennett’s motion was tabled after Yzaguirre made his substitute motion.

“Weighing out the cost benefit, it’s not worth the risk and compromise,” Yzaguirre said. “We know what we have right now as far as quality in public safety and the performance that we get out of police and fire.”

The police and fire audits cost $169,870. At that price the council should have at least sought numbers since the audits estimate the city could save between $2.3 million and $8.2 million by outsourcing or forming a joint agreement for fire services, Bennett said.

“I feel that we have to have everything on the table to see it side by side to figure what is the best direction for our community,” Bennett said. “Keeping it in house may be the best alternative, but I think we owe it to the community to look at everything.”

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