Lawrence Township exploring fire department merger

A Lawrence Township trustee is proposing to merge the township’s fire department with the Indianapolis Fire Department, in an attempt to further reduce its operating deficit.

Trustee Russell Brown plans to introduce a resolution calling for the consolidation at the Lawrence Township Advisory Board’s Tuesday evening meeting.

Brown’s request follows budget cuts agreed to last month by the township board and firefighters to reduce by two-thirds an expected $5.8 million deficit in 2010. The cuts were made without laying off any fire department personnel.

“Consolidating our fire departments makes sense for the taxpayers of Lawrence Township, it makes sense for the firefighters, and it works for the safety and security of all Indianapolis citizens,” Brown said in a written statement.

The township board can adopt a final resolution after a full public hearing, which could occur in early 2010. Following board approval, the resolution can be presented to the Indianapolis City-County Council for consideration.

Officials from Lawrence Township and the city are set to begin meeting soon to discuss the operational requirements and the fiscal impact of the merger.

Three of the eight Marion County townships that once had separate fire departments—Washington, Warren and Perry—already have merged with IFD.

Voters in Marion County also approved consolidating property assessment duties under one county executive. Merging fire departments is viewed by supporters of local government reform as another way to further save taxpayer money.

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