Friday, March 14, 2014

UG to study efficiency of public safety departments


KANSAS CITY, KAN. ----- For the first time in at least 10 years, the Unified Government will be studying the efficiency of its public safety departments.

The studies will attempt to find ways to improve the efficiency of police, fire and emergency response units in Wyandotte County.

Commissioners held a meeting Thursday evening to discuss the study, which will come at a time when the UG is facing the possibility of a bond downgrade.

The challenge will be finding a balance between the importance of public safety and the costs associated with it.

In a recent citizens survey performed by the UG, public safety ranked at the top when it came to reviews.

The Kansas City, Kan., Fire Department's satisfactory rating was nearly 90 percent, while 80 percent believed ambulance services were satisfactory and nearly two-thirds approved of the Kansas City, Kan., Police Department's performance.

The average response time from the KCK Fire Department also ranks highly among cities in the metro area. Violence crime is also at a 40-year low in Kansas City, Kan.

However, public safety also consumes a large and significant part of the county's annual budget.

Since 2006, spending on public safety has averaged a 34 percent increase, while the rest of the budget has increased by under two percent in those eight years.

"Public safety will remain a top priority," said UG Mayor/CEO Mark Holland. "We're going to find out we're doing things well. My hope is we'll have some efficiencies that will free up resources."

It will be the first efficiency study performed with the public safety departments in over a decade.