Vernon politicians are defending the possibility of trimming staff.
The city is initiating a request for proposals to determine if contracting out fire hall dispatch services could reduce costs.
“It’s worth exploring. There aren’t too many stand-alone dispatch operations any more,” said Coun. Juliette Cunningham. “We can’t make a decision until we have all of the information.”
According to Coun. Catherine Lord, a challenge is that local fire department staff get wage parity with Vancouver.
“If we reduce the cost of dispatch, we reduce the overall cost of the fire service,” she said.
Currently, the stand-alone dispatch service in Vernon costs $549,355 per year and anticipated savings through contracting out are about $250,000 per year.
“If it (contracting out) can save costs and we can maintain the service level, I think we’ll go for it but I can’t speak for council,” said Lord.
Coun. Brian Quiring says one of the goals of the dispatch service was to solicit contracts from surrounding communities as a way of offsetting the city’s operating expenses.
“That didn’t happen and isn’t happening. Local dispatch would be nice but it didn’t work,” he said.
“This (possible privatization) is an end result of a model that is not economically viable.”
Coun. Dalvir Nahal says she will have to consider the information from the review.
“It’s important to see the pros and cons but my initial reaction would be no as we would lose good paying jobs and those are hard to come by in this town,” she said.
Mayor Akbal Mund has previously indicated that he supports looking at options for fire dispatch.
Councillors Bob Spiers and Scott Anderson could not be reached for comment.