Imagine you and your significant other dating for months.

You’ve talked about a color scheme for your wedding. Maybe you’ve picked out rings and debated how many children you’d like to bring into the world.

And then he drops a bomb. He tells you he’d like to see other people, to explore other opportunities.

But even so, he wants to keep up with the wedding planning.

You might feel like Janesville and city of Milton officials felt when they learned the town of Milton is considering alternatives to a plan that would merge the Janesville and Milton fire departments.

Milton Town Board Chairman Bryan Meyer wrote to Janesville and city of Milton officials Monday, saying the town government “intends to foster conversations with the Edgerton Fire Department, our closest neighbor, with many similarities in size and type of service.”

Even so, the town takes negotiations with Janesville “very seriously,” Meyer said.

Janesville Fire Chief Ernie Rhodes and Milton City Administrator Al Hulick said the letter took them by surprise.

We suspect their reaction was a little stronger than that.

After all, the town of Milton and the city of Milton, who together operate a joint fire department, have been negotiating for months with Janesville to merge the fire departments. The two departments already operate under a “functional merger” with Rhodes serving as chief of both departments.

They even have a draft agreement for consolidation, covering everything from employees to funding to equipment.

But the town of Milton now wants to explore other options. Meyer said it would be “irresponsible” for the town to not have conversations with other jurisdictions about sharing fire services.

This should not deter Janesville and the city of Milton from continuing to pursue consolidation. We have advocated repeatedly in this space for consolidation of fire services throughout our area.

Milton Mayor Anissa Welch said it well in an email to The Gazette:

“The city of Milton has accepted the reality, like most other municipalities in the state and country, that a volunteer/paid on call or premise/part-time fire and paramedic system no longer works in today’s world for lots of reasons that we have no control over,” Welch wrote. “This is happening across the state of Wisconsin and country … It is not sustainable for a city that is experiencing growth at the rate we are as a whole to not make the tough choices that need to be made.”

If the town of Milton wants to go its own way, then let it. Janesville and the city of Milton should press ahead.

They’ll have to decide whether the town of Milton gets any say on the color of the bridesmaids’ dresses.


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