Hallandale Beach commissioners voted 4 to 1 in a recent meeting to merge their fire department with the Broward Sheriff’s Office.
A Hallandale Fire Department official said the merger was necessary because they are short-staffed, and the city can’t afford to hire more firefighters.
“The analysis presented by city staff shows it would cost the city $665,000 more to outsource our fire department to BSO without any service improvements,” said Commissioner Mike Butler.
Butler, who voted against the plan, said the city is broke and said he prefers saving the money.
No one else, however, agreed.
“I made a promise to the people that I would advocate for public safety,” said Commissioner Anabelle Lima-Taub.
Butler believes the city has a spending problem that needs to be addressed.
In the city commission meeting, the city’s proposed 2019-20 general fund was presented and projected to have a $3.65 million deficit. According to Butler, the deficit does not include properly funding the city’s general fund reserves, which would add another $538,000 to the deficit.
“By Florida law, the city must balance the budget every year, which means we must cut anticipated expenditures or find additional revenues, most commonly done by raising taxes,” said Butler.
Butler said the city should get equal or better services for equal or less cost. Instead, the proposal is to spend more on the same level of service the city receives today.
Commissioners acknowledged the city is broke, but they voted to move forward with the merger, prioritizing public safety they say residents need and deserve.
“Our firefighters need to know they have the manpower and the people behind them to protect them,” Mayor Joy Adams said in the city commission meeting.
Firefighters and others who attended the commission meeting clapped and cheered when the commissioners decided to move forward with the merger.
According to Adams, the city was supposed to hire two firefighters per year to grow the department, but they never got to it because they can’t afford to.
“I don’t want a policeman, woman, firefighter to not feel secure in their job,” said Adams.