Hobart is looking at privatizing the city's EMS operations. It's good to consider this option.
"We're doing what every community is doing, which is looking at options," City Councilman David Vinzant, D-5th, said. "We have to find a way to cut costs. Clearly other communities are finding it's working for them."
Merrillville privatized its emergency medical services in late 2007. Prompt Ambulance Service began serving the town in February 2008. East Chicago just recently decided to switch to a private ambulance service.
In Hobart, Hobart Firefighters Union Local 1641 President Tom Castle said up to 14 firefighters could lose their jobs through EMS privatization. Vinzant said it's too early to tell how many jobs might be lost.
What's happening is a paradigm shift in government.
Hobart's consideration of EMS privatization is in keeping with other communities' re-examination of how to handle EMS, trash collection and other routine city services.
"When you have a private firm, the services are paid for by those who use it," Vinzant said. "Taxpayers recognize the benefit because it is a service that isn't subsidized by taxes."
What matters most to the residents is getting good service at the best price, regardless of whether it's city workers doing the job or a private company.
User fees, rather than property tax support for the service, makes sense for many government services.
Competitive bidding helps make sure prices don't get out of line. Gary, for example, recently switched to a different waste hauler and was able to get new trash bins for residents and knocked down rates as well.
Hobart is right to consider privatizing EMS service. Whether it's a smart idea depends on what the research now being done reveals, but the job of government is not to protect government jobs. Rather, it's to serve the public.