By Tim Pallesen
Palm Beach County Fire Rescue says it can save Delray Beach taxpayers $500,000 a year by taking over fire-rescue services for the city.
Delray Beach asked for the price quote to see if the county could provide the same services for less than the city’s $23.6 million annual cost.
“We have a quote that’s $500,000 less than the current budget, but there’s a lot more to it,” Delray Fire-Rescue Chief Danielle Connor said.
Connor stressed that the quote is preliminary and that the two sides still have to discuss firefighter pensions and capital costs.
Mayor Cary Glickstein, who requested the quote after it was suggested by the firefighters union in September, said he won’t comment on it until Connor can study it.
“This is an initial draft that I have not seen,” Glickstein said. “I had no predisposed expectations. It was and remains an opportunity to review another option that will get intense scrutiny.”
County Fire Rescue Chief Jeff Collins specified in his response that Delray Beach must retain responsibility for the city pension fund and its unfunded liability. City firefighters who became county employees could choose whether to stay in the city’s pension program or join the Florida Retirement System that county firefighters use.
Also unresolved is who will pay for new fire trucks and building upgrades, Connor said. The county would operate five Delray fire stations and a sixth station that Delray now operates in Highland Beach.
The county would continue the fire-rescue services that Delray now provides to Highland Beach and Gulf Stream at the same cost. “Those transitions would go smoothly if there’s a consolidation,” Connor predicted.