There's nothing like a tight budget to make a person, a family or a city move some of its expenditures from the necessity column to the luxury column. The Sandusky City Commission has been making those tough decisions for some time now and will continue to re-evaluate its priorities in an effort to govern within its means.
Though the police and fire departments have taken their share of hits in the recent belt tightening, the safety of Sandusky's residents remains a top priority. Both departments have had to do more with less.
But help is on the way. The city commission has voted to bring in a representative of the International City/County Management Association to take a look at the safety service operating procedures and make suggestions to maximize efficiency.
The problems facing the city are nothing new to this association which has worked with more than 9,000 local governments. Huron contracted the group for an extensive study which resulted in potential savings of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Huron paid $26,000 for the comprehensive study. Sandusky is just dipping its toes in the pool of the association's expertise and will pay $1,000 for a one-day data analysis and operational review.
This is a good first step in modernizing safety services, of spending to save. A little foresight might have dictated hearing what the experts had to say before the city locked itself into a three-year contract with firefighters. Firefighter representatives at the collective bargaining table were wise to not drag negotiations on too long, or they may have ended up with a very different contract.
Still, safety is the No. 1 priority for the city. A lean and efficient safety service force will save the city money in these tough times and, as the economy improves, will pave the way for putting more police and firefighters on the job.