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Rumors circulate that Galt, Elk Grove fire services may merge

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Posted: Wednesday, December 28, 2005 10:00 pm

Rumors that Galt may consolidate its fire service with the larger Elk Grove department are running rampant, at least in Galt.

What would such a merger mean for the Galt area? Would there be greater fire service with more personnel and trucks available? Could local firefighters access Elk Grove's extensive training center? Or would Galt residents lose control of their fire service?

The first step in Galt exploring a merger of its fire operations with Elk Grove will take place in two weeks, when Elk Grove's Fire Chief Keith Grueneberg will discuss how such an arrangement might benefit Galt.

Grueneberg declined to comment on the presentation until after the meeting.A merger of the two agencies would be out of the direct control of either the Galt or Elk Grove city council, as Galt Fire is an independent district and Elk Grove Fire is part of special services district.

The answer on what a merger of the two fire services means for Galt depends on who you talk to.

Here are the key players and how they interpret the rumors:

Guy Rutter, chairman, Galt Fire board: The Elk Grove district wants to consider expanding its boundaries because of ongoing political struggles with the city of Elk Grove.

Kristyn Staby, spokeswoman, Elk Grove Community Services District: Grueneberg, the Elk Grove fire chief, requested the meeting with Galt, primarily through interest by the Galt firefighters union to investigate what a merger could bring. Grueneberg declined to comment until after the Jan. 12 meeting.

Chris Welch, Galt representative, Sacramento Firefighters Local 422: Galt firefighters voted in September to be "open minded" about what a merger could mean. The union did not vote to actively pursue a merger or seek information from Elk Grove.

Dale Templeton, Galt Fire board member: Galt firefighters might be motivated to pursue a merger because they stand to make substantially more money by consolidating with Elk Grove. He opposes consolidation because the district's 45,000 residents would yield control to the more than 100,000 Elk Grove residents.

What this means to you

To Galt, the benefits of merging its fire district with the Elk Grove Community Services District is unclear. Elk Grove is a much larger fire department, which allows for greater economy of scale and resources from its fire personnel and equipment. The downside is that the Galt area will lose local representation from its five-member board of directors.

"Basically (we) need to get to the bottom of this," Rutter said. "If (Elk Grove) has something to offer, they need to put their money where their mouth is."

Rutter said that truthful information needs to be put on the table.

"Unless we put it out in the open, it will affect the morale of both organizations."

A report on the possible consolidation of fire service in Galt and Elk Grove will be held at 5:30 p.m. Jan. 12 at Galt Station 45, 229 Fifth St.

Contact reporter Ross Farrow at rossf@lodinews.com.

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