Mt. Healthy, N. College Hill consider fire department merger - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Mt. Healthy, NCH consider fire department merger

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MT. HEALTHY, OH (FOX19) -

With cuts to local government tax and inheritance tax, townships and cities across the Tri-State are struggling to fund public services.

As a result, several communities are looking to balance the budget by merging fire departments, police departments or even combining the two to form one general public safety department.

Mt. Healthy and North College Hill are the most recent communities to consider sharing fire department services. On Monday, officials and residents from both areas teamed up to see if merging the two departments is a good, long-term solution.

"I do see this trend everywhere. The answer isn't continuous cutting. Eventually we're going to hurt ourselves," said Mt. Healthy City Council Member Ames Wolf.

The question is, what model of consolidation works best, if at all?

"I've worked under a couple different models, and I can't tell you, because it's going to be what we find from our data and that's going to drive some decisions," said Steve Conn, the North College Hill Fire Department Deputy Chief.

On Monday evening, Loveland Symmes Fire Chief Otto Huber presented the model used by his department. Many residents and firefighters from both communities fired back with questions and concerns.

"We need good hard data and do a needs assessment on our services and our calls for services to make sure we're providing what we can provide and what the public needs," said Conn.

Cuts have already impacted the staffing of both departments.

"From 4 a.m. to 8 a.m., we're down to two because of the cuts. That's the only way that we could sustain the rest of the hours," said Lawson.

Firefighters from both communities want council to keep the fire chiefs actively involved within the decision making process.

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