By ROGER AMSDEN, LACONIA DAILY SUN
LACONIA — Belknap County Commissioners agreed that regionalization of fire and police departments within the county has the potential to save taxpayers money and say that it will be one of the issues they hope to explore further during the budget discussions in the months ahead.
Commission Chairman Dave DeVoy (R-Sanbornton), who chaired a study committee in Sanbornton which earlier this examined the possible regionalization of fire services, said that he saw a lot of support for the regionalization of fire and police services in meetings the committee had with surrounding communities.
He said that Lakes Region Mutual Fire Aid has already regionalized fire services from an operational standpoint but not from an organizational standpoint.
“We need to bring everyone interested in regionalization together to make it happen,” said DeVoy, who asked why there should be 10 police chiefs and 10 fire chiefs in a county with a population of about 60,000.
Commissioner Hunter Taylor (R-Alton) supported DeVoy's suggestion, which came at the opening of a budget review session by commissioners Wednesday afternoon.
“It's an important issue. You can make the argument that the failure to regionalize services has already cost taxpayers a lot of money,” said Taylor.
The report issued by the Sanbornton committee which DeVoy chaired said that towns in the county are being placed in an unsustainable position due to the lack of progress on the issue and that someone like the County Commissioners needs to take a leadership role in pushing for regionalization.