A full-time fire department can be expensive and, in many places, unnecessary. It's time to think about outsourcing services to the city next door.
Believe it or not, there was a time when government ran a surplus. Even today, in this economy, there are municipalities that consistently close out their annual budgets with a surplus. Somewhere along the road of good government, the concept of a "profit" became a bad idea. Most taxpayers would argue that government is not a business, but in the same vein they would like to see government operated more like a business.
Successful businesses have a major advantage over government: They typically provide a particular type of product or service. One of government's biggest hurdles is the sheer number of services it must provide, often with very limited resources.
Yet it is clear that some municipalities or counties are better suited than others to provide a specific service. For instance, the city of Salem, Massachusetts, has one of the fastest response times of any fire department in Essex County. In the business world, that is known as a "competitive advantage."
So why hasn't Salem offered its services to other neighboring communities? Two reasons: 1) a lack of knowledge on how to market services and 2) the strength of union officials in dictating how politicians will act.