The Coastal Star

Along the Coast: Mayors find consolidation consultant’s price steep

By Steve Plunkett

    When coastal mayors next meet to discuss ways to consolidate services and reduce costs, they’ll have a big price tag to digest: $71,500.
    That’s how much consultant Willdan Homeland Solutions wants to study the possibility of making one fire-rescue department to serve Gulf Stream, Ocean Ridge, Briny Breezes, Manalapan and Lantana.
    The cost estimate surprised at least one mayor.
    “I don’t think that’s too accurate,” said Ken Kaleel of Ocean Ridge, who set up the mayors’ initial meeting in June.
    Gulf Stream Town Manager William Thrasher asked for the estimate after his town was hit with a $38,000-a-year surcharge for fire-rescue from Delray Beach, after Gulf Stream annexed a 16.6-acre pocket.
    Joseph De Ladurantey, former police chief in Irwindale and Torrance, Calif., and onetime captain in the Los Angeles Police Department, would head the study, according to the Willdan proposal. Willdan also developed the assessment methodology for Gulf Stream’s underground utility project.
    Helping De Ladurantey would be five other consultants: a retired Deltona fire chief, a retired Orange County Fire Rescue division chief and two retired battalion chiefs and a retired New Port Richey fire chief, Willdan’s proposal says. De Ladurantey says he would provide 10 hard copies and one CD of his final report within 90 days of being awarded the contract.
    The proposal notes two of the five communities are served by the county, two by Boynton Beach and one by Delray Beach.
    “With three separate organizations, there are three separate legal arrangements and three separate approaches to providing modern fire and rescue services,” it says.
    The proposed price is more than the mayors have committed so far to hiring a consultant. Gulf Stream and Lantana chipped in $5,000 apiece. Ocean Ridge and Manalapan were waiting to see what the cost might be.
    Briny Breezes mostly sits in on the meetings. South Palm Beach’s mayor did not want to pay for a consultant.
    Kaleel said his secretary was calling around the last week
of October to coordinate a time for the mayors’ second meeting.                                    

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