Phoenix-In a report released today by the Goldwater Institute, Hudson Institute adjunct fellow David Dodenhoff argues that Scottsdale should continue its contract with Rural/Metro, the private company that has provided the city's fire service since 1951, rather than create a publicly-run, municipal fire department. The controversy over the future of fire services in Scottsdale will culminate in a special election on May 20, 2003.
In "A Test of Fire: Rural/Metro and the Future of Fire Services in Scottsdale," Dr. Dodenhoff finds that Rural/Metro has provided Scottsdale with high quality fire service equal to or better than the city's service expectations. He also argues that there is no reason to believe a city department could do the job more effectively or less expensively. Combined first-year operating and transition costs for a city department are estimated to exceed those of Rural-Metro by anywhere from $2 million to $7 million.
"Furthermore," Dodenhoff argues, "creating a city department would risk establishing a permanent government monopoly that would not be subject to periodic review, as Rural/Metro is. Creation of a city department would also preclude the city from establishing a competitive bidding process."
The Goldwater report urges the following actions: 1) Scottsdale voters should reject the proposal to create a city fire department and retain the services of Rural/Metro for the present time. 2) The mayor and city council of Scottsdale should make careful decisions about which changes they will adopt for the city's fire service in the future. 3) Once that question is settled, the city of Scottsdale should set up a competitive bidding process to establish which entity can provide the desired fire services at the lowest cost.
"A Test of Fire" is available online.