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HesperiaStar.com
  • Going local?

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  • The valley’s incorporated communities — Victorville, Hesperia, Apple Valley and Adelanto — are weighing the formation of a joint powers authority to manage their police and fire services.
    Good idea? The jury’s still out, because a feasibility study paid for by the four, and conducted by a Bay Area consulting firm, apparently didn’t produce enough information to make a final decision.
    As Victorville Mayor Jim Cox put it, “This proposal needs further research and we need to consider all of these numbers that we were just presented with.” That was late last week.
    There has always been some suspicion among three of the communities that law enforcement costs as provided by the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department are too high. Those costs have risen steadily over the years, and the increases have been justified by the Sheriff’s Department as necessary because of the growth of the communities and the increasing complexity of providing police protection.
    Interestingly, an editorial in the Riverside Press-Enterprise earlier this week noted that the city of San Bernardino is considering the idea of outsourcing fire protection services to the county. The Press-Enterprise describes the move as “a potentially beneficial cost-savings move that has long been adopted by cities throughout the county.” Perhaps, but the flaw in that ointment is that San Bernardino was so woefully mismanaged over the years, and so irresponsibly generous in the pensions and benefits it agreed to with its fire and police departments that any change would be an improvement financially to the city’s taxpayers.
    We’re not sure that’s the case in the valley, though of course the county Sheriff Department’s employees receive what we view as far too generous pensions and benefits, and that generosity — granted by the county’s Board of Supervisors, who’ve always been ruled by Democrats — is already built into the contracts the department agrees to with Apple Valley, Victorville, Adelanto and Hesperia.
    The Press-Enterprise says the San Bernardino decision to authorize fact-finding to determine if outsourcing its fire protection services to the county is “a sensible one, given the city’s finances and a reasonable suspicion that outsourcing ... could provide the same level of service at a lower cost.”
    Notice that “reasonable suspicion” phrase? Why is it, do you suppose, that the vast majority of United States citizens — including the people who live in San Bernardino and the Victor Valley — have the sneaking hunch that they’re continually being overcharged for services the various government agencies provide? Is it possible that they are being overcharged?
    Of course. How can it be otherwise when the average government worker is paid (we almost said “earns”), according to the Office for National Statistics, an hourly wage that is 7.8 percent higher than that of the average private sector worker. And public sector workers, in particular police and firefighters, retire years (and sometimes decades) earlier than their private sector counterparts. Funded by...
    As Mr. Cox noted, all this is going to take lot more study before any change is made. 

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