Handing all emergency medical runs over to the county and merging the police and fire departments are ideas Delaware city officials are investigating as they seek ways to trim costs.

Handing all emergency medical runs over to the county, and merging the police and fire departments are ideas Delaware city officials are investigating as they seek ways to trim costs.

The city's 2010 budget cuts decreased police and fire department personnel, and reduced operating funds to 2008 levels.

At a Jan. 30 retreat, city council talked about ways to help beef up those services without going to taxpayers for more money.

The city will look at placing a public safety levy on the August or November ballot, and look at the way those departments are structured, to see if an income tax increase can be avoided.

City manager Tom Homan will meet this week with county administrator Dave Cannon and county emergency medical services (EMS) chief Rob Farmer about the possibility of the county taking over all EMS runs in the city, which make up 67 percent of the fire department calls.

The county currently covers some of the city's EMS runs, he said.

City spokesman Lee Yoakum stressed a combined police-fire department "is not being considered. What we are doing is investigation. It may never be considered. Council asked the city staff to research to see if this is something that might be considered at a later date."

Homan has asked the police and fire chiefs to visit a couple of Michigan cities, such as Kalamazoo and Grand Haven, that operate their fire and police departments as a single public safety department, with personnel who are cross-trained to handle calls in both areas.

Homan has asked council members to talk with elected and administrative officials in those cities to get their perspective on the public safety operations, including how they went about combining the two entities and the pros and cons of such a move.

With all of the information, Homan said the council should be ready in no more than 90 days to look at the current structure and see if changes are needed and decide if a levy should go on a future ballot.