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Cornelius News

Outside firm will study first responder staffing, salaries as well as consolidating fire departments

April 11. By Dave Vieser. The Cornelius Town Board has retained the Washington, DC-based Center for Public Safety Management (CPSM) to conduct a study on proper staffing levels in the police and fire departments. The sensitive issue has arisen in the past during budget discussions with commissioners debating adequate salaries and staffing levels for the town’s first responders.


The study will also include a look at consolidating the Cornelius, Huntersville and Davidson fire departments.

“This will be a thorough third-party review of personnel and operational aspects in both the Fire Department and Police Department to determine appropriate resource levels,” said Town Manager Andrew Grant.

Both Huntersville and Davidson have agreed to participate in the fire department study.

The cost of the staffing study is $74,250, with an additional $2,700 for the consolidation review. According to the terms of the contract, a final report should be completed within 135 days.

The study is an outgrowth from last spring’s budget discussions, when the question of whether to add an administrative layer over the chiefs of the fire department and police department came up.

Funds were added to the 2019 fiscal year budget to address the public safety issue, but the methodology—no public safety commissioner—was not finalized until now. Earlier consideration was given to retaining a contractor and/or working with a consultant.

The first step in the study process will be for CPSM analysts to “dive into the data” said Grant. 


Meanwhile, Mayor Woody Washam said he will be establishing two steering committees with the help of the town board: One for the consolidation study, and another for the staffing review. Commissioner Dave Gilroy urged quick action. “I feel like we are already behind by six months on this,” he said.

CPSM has conducted over 300 similar studies in 41 states and 210 communities in the US ranging in size from 8,000 population Boone, Iowa, to 800,000 population Indianapolis Indiana.