In Arlington, the idea of a civil service system for the Arlington Fire Department has picked up some heat.
Proposition 2 on the May 6 ballot is aimed at creating a system for firefighter personnel that would keep political pressure out of the firefighter hiring and promotion processes.
If Proposition 2 is approved, an extra layer of bureaucracy — a local civil service commission — would be added to oversee those processes.
But taking away city officials’ control in the hiring and promoting processes also has its downside. Civil service hiring and promotions would be based on a written exam, military service and a physical exam. That might hinder some other worthwhile city goals, such as diversity in the fire fighting ranks.
Civil service would diminish local control in the fire department while costing the city money to run.
The cost to taxpayers for operating the commission is estimated by the city at around $350,000.
Fairness and lack of “politics” in the fire department’s personnel office need to be a priority to Arlington firefighters and the residents they serve, but a new level of bureaucracy isn’t the best way to handle it.
Arlington voters shot down civil service twice before.
The Star-Telegram Editorial Board recommends a vote against Proposition 2.