“The proven value of regionalization” – Citizens-Voice, Wilkes-Barre, PA

“Here is rock-solid evidence that inter-municipal cooperation can provide a payoff beyond improved services: Residents of Kingston and Forty Fort, which have a functionally merged fire and ambulance service, could enjoy a fire insurance premium reduction of 8 to 10 percent. The announcement came at this week’s Kingston council meeting.

“Rates are set by insurance companies, but the new rating, set by the Insurance Services Office, a private company that evaluates emergency services in communities, is significant. It means the merger is working for the benefit of citizens.

“Many residents don’t need this report to know that Kingston-Forty Fort is setting a standard in delivery of emergency services.

Those who have benefited from rapid responses and efficient firefighting or medical assistance efforts already applaud the merged service. (Kingston-Forty Fort also responds into Pringle).

“Kingston-Forty Fort is also part of a joint ambulance backup response plan involving Wilkes-Barre, Plains Township, Hanover Township and the privately owned Trans-Med, based in Luzerne.

ISO ratings are not widely known and there is no public dissemination of this information. Residents can ask their own fire department or insurance provider for their community’s ISO rating. But, not all towns subscribe to the rating service and some insurance companies do not use ISO data, preferring other rating systems.

“But the pivotal issue is the viability of merged or regional services.

“Towns can do standalone emergency services; mutual aid pacts can provide back-up to some degree, or regional emergency services can be created, either by towns on their own or through a council of governments or community partnership.

“Cooperation works, and the higher the level of cooperation, the better the service to citizens. Since we are concerned here with lives and property, it makes sense to get this debate under way in every community.

“And getting a break on the home insurance tab, even a small break, makes regionalization an even sweeter success.”

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