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Report to examine savings for Beaufort police and fire departments

Beaufort officials expect to soon get an up-close and personal look at how the fire and police departments do business, city manager Scott Dadson says.

The final draft of a report the City Council ordered last year examining efficiencies within the two departments is expected to be released during the first week of March, Dadson said.

The city paid $1,000 in April to Leonard Matarese, a consultant who specializes in public safety issues for the International City/County Management Association in Washington, D.C., to conduct the study. A spokeswoman for ICMA referred comment on the report to Dadson.

Dadson declined to comment, saying, "When we have something definitive, we will share."

Soon after being hired, Matarese said restructuring the departments would allow the city to deliver the same level of service at less cost.

"There's value even if you don't save a dime," Matarese said in April.

For example, firefighters, who work 24-hour shifts with two days off in between and who respond to calls only 5 percent to 10 percent of that time, could be assigned other tasks, he said. Last week, the city put the Fire Department in charge of enforcing nuisance-code violations, such as overgrown grass and shrubs, trash and other safety and health violations.

Council members said they wanted a consultant's unbiased advice on the departments during a discussion last year that included the possibility of combining the two agencies into a single department of public safety. The police and fire departments are two of the city's largest employers and spending items, according to city records.

Police Chief Matt Clancy said he's comfortable with the work being done by his department and will wait to see the report before commenting further.

"There's not much to say until we get it and see what it says," Clancy said.

Interim Beaufort Fire Chief Sammy Negron declined to comment.

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