Published in the Pioneer Press

Editor's note: This commentary was signed by Sue Gehrz, mayor of Falcon Heights; Sandy Martin, mayor of Shoreview; Tom Watson, mayor of North Oaks; Bev Aplikowski, mayor of Arden Hills; Bill Blesener, mayor of Little Canada; Steve Larson, mayor of New Brighton; Sue Banovetz, mayor of Vadnais Heights; Bill Sandberg, mayor of North St. Paul; Craig Klausing, mayor of Roseville; and Paul Auger, mayor of White Bear Lake.

Your July 27 editorial criticizing Maplewood Mayor Bob Cardinal's recent vote to delay consolidation of that city's dispatch center with Ramsey County and St. Paul was inaccurate on key issues. Cardinal was right to raise some important questions about the county's proposed plan for the consolidation.

Your statement that the issue of "who would pay for new services ... was hammered out between the parties" was not accurate. Most of the suburban cities were not included in these negotiations which, under the plan endorsed by the city of St. Paul, pass most of St. Paul's current dispatching costs onto the suburban Ramsey County cities.

The projected savings in capital construction costs are not the only important consideration. Ongoing operating costs have a far greater impact on our taxpayers than the one-time capital cost. These tax increases are paid year after year after year by our residents and businesses.

In order for any change in how public safety services are dispatched to work effectively, all municipalities, whether big or small, must be treated fairly. That is not the case with the current funding plan that has St. Paul paying only 44 percent of the cost but using more than 70 percent of the resources. Other more equitable plans must be given the same consideration as was given to the city of St. Paul.

Maplewood is not alone in this opposition. Most of the other cities in suburban Ramsey County have passed resolutions requesting re-analysis of the cost allocations. That has not been done but we will continue to work with our county commissioners and colleagues in St. Paul toward that end.

2006 St. Paul Pioneer Press and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.