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New twist could bring towns' functions together

Mayors will consider consolidation of services

 


One mayor is still determined to find a way to consolidate some of the services of two local municipalities.

Electric City and Grand Coulee had each indicated last year a willingness to fund a study on the consolidation of those two cities, but did not commit any funds during the budgeting process in the fall.

But Coulee Dam Mayor Greg Wilder indicated last week that he still hopes that services such as police, fire and ambulance could someday be consolidated with those of Grand Coulee.

“I plan to get together with Grand Coulee Mayor Paul Townsend to see if he would be interested in discussions toward that end,” Wilder said.

Wilder had briefly mentioned his interest at a recent meeting of the Board of Mayors.

Accordingly, Wilder said his effort to select a new police chief for Coulee Dam is on hold.

Coulee Dam currently has three officers — two full time and the third working about 30 hours a week, Wilder noted. To provide coverage, one officer is always on call and can’t leave town in case he is needed.

The town hasn’t started using reserve officers, but that mix could be in the future, Wilder said.

The mayor has maintained an interest in combining some of the services with Grand Coulee for some time. The easiest would be police, fire and ambulance, he said.

Grand Coulee’s ambulance service regularly responds to the needs of Coulee Dam. The fire department also will respond if there is a need.

Grand Coulee Volunteer Fire Chief Richard Paris was out of town and not available to comment on any consolidation of the fire and ambulance services.

Grand Coulee Mayor Townsend said Tuesday that he wants to get together with his department heads before meeting with Wilder.

“I do want to meet with Coulee Dam to discuss some kind of joint effort,” Townsend stated. “I wonder if it might be better to do things by contract. At issue will be who is in charge and who has the authority.”

Issues to consider regarding any combining of police departments include that Grand Coulee pays its officers more than Coulee Dam does, and the two departments use different dispatch systems.

“I see the practicality of combining services,” Townsend stated. “We have a lot to offer. And I think it will eventually happen.”

Wilder had mentioned that police in his town have a different approach in handling law enforcement and he didn’t want to see that changed.

The two will likely start discussions after fire chief Paris returns from vacation later this month.

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