By Michael S. Hoey
The Town of Delavan Board approved sending a letter to neighboring municipalities on Jan. 23 soliciting input on shared services for fire and rescue. There was some question as to the responses the letter might generate considering the county is planning on studying shared services this summer.
Supervisor Bill Thummel said the impetus for the letter and the desire to study shared services at this time is that the town plans on generating a new long-range strategic plan soon and the issue of shared services will be a part of that discussion.
“We want to continuously explore options for the gold standard of service while reducing the cost,” Thummel said.
Thummel said the idea is to contact and explore options with communities that share a border with the town and the letter would be the first step.
Town Chairman Mary Knipper said the letter expressed that the town is not singling out one department for consideration and the idea of shared services meets the future goals of the town. She wondered if the town has explored every conceivable option and she said board members need to be prepared to answer questions from the community about why it would make sense.
Administrator John Olson said the town may be moving a bit prematurely by sending the letter now considering that Walworth County has already asked municipalities for their interest level in participating in a study about shared services this summer. Olson worried that communities that receive the town’s letter might wonder why they should respond knowing that a county study is forthcoming.
Thummel said he was not opposed to postponing sending the letter, but he also did not want the town to held in limbo on the issue if the county study does not get done as scheduled. He said that the letter, if sent now, could include a reference to the county study so communities that receive it know the town is aware of the study and partnering with the town could be a parallel activity.
Knipper added that if the town has already worked with neighboring communities before the county study begins, they might be able to come up with ideas that would benefit other communities.
The motion to approve sending the letter with some edits suggested at this meeting passed unanimously.