Fire Board/City Council Meeting
December 4, 2012
Zumbrota Fire Hall
Pursuant to due call and notice thereof, Fire Board Chair Doug Sommer called the Fire Board meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. with the pledge of allegiance. PRESENT: Doug Sommer, Ron Horsman, Bill Budensiek, Marvin Ehlers, Darren Pahl, Darrel Leonard, Roger Ballstadt, David Hadler, Richard Miller, Glen Betcher, Kerry Fredrixon, Richard Miller, Todd Greseth, Mayor Rich Bauer; Council members Dale Hinderaker, Sara Durhman, Tina Hostager and Brad Drenckhahn. Others present: Jeff Smith, Sandy Hadler, City Administrator Neil Jensen and City Accountant Kim Simonson.
Fire Chief Ron Horsman read the minutes of the last meeting. A motion was made and seconded to approve the minutes. Carried unanimously.
Fire Chief Ron Horsman read a letter from Belle Creek Township. The letter was their resignation from the Zumbrota Fire District. The resignation of Belle Creek Township is effective January 1, 2013.
The meeting then focused on the joint powers agreement. Durhman had taken the document from the last meeting and marked it up with the suggestions made at the last meeting. Sommer suggested the contract changes be looked through on a point by point basis.
Darrell Leonard asked if the words “medical response services” could be removed from the contract as the Zumbrota Fire Department does not provide medical response services.
Section 2.2b Ex-Officio (non-voting) Members: The section shall read as follows: The Zumbrota City Administrator and the Fire Chief shall serve on the Board as non-voting Ex-Officio Members. The Fire chief shall act as the representative of the Fire Department and shall give updates of the Fire Department’s meetings, committees and activities to the Board. No opposition to this change was voiced.
Section 2.2d. 1. Chair & Vice Chair: The section reads as follows: Chair & Vice Chair: The Board shall elect from among its Voting Members, a Chair, and a Vice-Chair for a one year term. The Chair shall act as the presiding officer at Board meetings and the Vice-Chair shall act as the president officer at any meetings not attended by the Chair. The Secretary/Treasurer shall preside at any meeting in the absence of the Chair and Vice-Chair. No opposition to this change was voiced
Section 2.2c. 2. Secretary/Treasurer: The section was changed to read:
- Minutes shall be completed within two weeks of the last meeting.
- Agendas and immediate past minutes shall be provided to members two weeks prior to the next scheduled meeting.
- An external audit will be conducted bi-annually unless the secretary treasurer role is split between two people, at which point an internal audit will be conducted annually.
Section 2.5 Meetings: The agreement was changed to state regular meetings would be held quarterly. There was no additional discussion.
Section 3.1.c: This was changed to read “To purchase land and to cause the construction of buildings to implement the purposed of the District.”
Section 3.1.d: Changed to read “To lease or purchase equipment, including capital equipment and supplies necessary for the proper operation, care, maintenance and preservation of District facilities and equipment.”
Section 4.2 Disposition of Existing Fire Station: Mayor Bauer asked if the Fire Board was interested in purchasing, renting and/or paying depreciation on the fire hall. Bill Budensiek commented Minneola Township isn’t interested in purchasing the fire hall for $700,000. He thought the figure was too high. Bauer then replied that rent or paying depreciation was an option. Todd Greseth of Roscoe Township asked if the numbers supplied were accurate or estimated. Bauer replied they were accurate and stated that with the building aging it is likely maintenance costs will increase. Sommer asked if this cost would be divided up by percentages yet to be determined, which it is. Greseth said he couldn’t really see the advantage to the Fire Board buying the building. Bauer stated that the City is paying the bulk of the building expenses with no payment being received from the dues. Sommer asked if any expenses were paid from the dues and he was told they were not. Roger Ballstadt from Zumbrota Township stated Zumbrota Township would not be interested in buying the building. He also stressed the cost must be kept in line with other fire districts. He said he was not opposed to paying for maintenance and utilities but didn’t want to pay the depreciation on the building. Tina Hostager asked if dues in other fire districts paid for other fire halls. She was told yes but some of the townships stated they would be better to move to a different fire district than to pay for all these costs. Pine Island representative Richard Miller said his township would be interested in sharing maintenance and utilities but not depreciation. Bauer stated that Minneola and Roscoe pay for the cost of a fire hall in their other contracts. Greseth was asked how Wanamingo does it. He said the budget for the fire department is within the City budget. All costs associated with running the department are split out by township. Major purchases are run by the townships but the City makes the decision. The percentages are based off of property values but the fire department is 100% city owned. Ballstadt stated the Zumbrota Fire District is smaller and the costs cannot be spread out as much. Ballstadt also said he would like to see the whole picture with numbers, costs and percentages before he could agree to anything.
Section 4.8 Maintenance of Buildings and Equipment: Left as is but will be split out according to percentages.
Section 5.2 Fire Chief: It was reiterated the District Fire Chief shall be chosen by the Fire Department.
Section 5.5 Employees: An employee is any current fire department employee which is the fire men. If a new district is created the Fire Board would have the fire men as employees when on fire calls. This also would qualify the firemen for workers’ comp insurance.
Section 6.1 Member Contributions: Durhman asked if those present agreed that market value was the best basis to create a formula. If this were used each parcel in the district would be accounted for. This information would be available through the County. Ballstadt stated he would like to see a combination of market value and population which he felt would be equitable. Miller stated he would also like to see more of the figures before decisions are made. Budensiek asked how often the rate would be changed. In the contract is says ten years. It was agreed that the percentages would be adjusted every ten years and the amounts would be looked at every five years. Payments would be made semi-annually.
Section 7.2 Approval of Capital Improvement Program/Finance Plan: Discussion about this topic focused about whether the vote on capital equipment purchases should be unanimous. Ballstadt said he was not in favor of a unanimous vote. Durhman said the unanimous vote provides an opportunity for open discussions on the needs and costs of the fire equipment. She and Jensen stressed the document would be fluid and would adapt to changes in case of an unforeseen equipment need. Ballstadt and Pahl said they still felt the decision should be decided by majority vote. Bauer said if that was the case then the City would prefer to follow the Pine Island model where the City owns the building and some equipment and the townships pay for the rest of the equipment. Pahl questioned why the City would resort to the Pine Island model if the townships wanted a majority vote. Hinderaker said he was fine with a majority vote if the costs were split equally at 20% per entity. Council member Drenckhahn stated that he is not comfortable letting the townships with a minority percentage make decisions for the City’s tax payers when they have a majority percentage. Drenckhahn said that if the finance plan was unanimously agreed to and someone didn’t want to participate in a purchase there would be legal ramifications to that refusal. Pine Island Township questioned what would happen if a township or the City came up short with funds in any given year. Durhman said she hoped that more open discussion would prevent this from happening and if it did then the other entities could help each other. Somer said that all entering the agreement need to realize they need to hold their end up. Greseth was asked if the Wanamingo Fire Department had an equipment fund. He said they do not currently but would like to. The WFD did recently purchase a gator but they paid with that from the money they received for medical runs. Pahl asked the Mayor and Council what they would do if all the townships pulled out of the district. Drenckhahn said the City would do what it had to in order to provide fire protection for its citizens. Durhman asked why the townships would want to back out. Ballstadt replied that some of their properties are closer to another district. Hinderaker suggested that once the market value and population numbers are put together it would be easier to look at capital equipment schedule and see what the ramifications are. Pahl distributed some photos of a fire engine. He stated that even though it would upset some he thought the life of the fire equipment needed to be stretched out an additional five to eight years. He said the fire department didn’t need the Cadillac of equipment and would maybe have to get a Chevy. The fire truck in the picture he distributed had a price tag of $225,000. Darrell Leonard countered by saying the truck which had been bid out was far from a Cadillac and was in the mid-range.
Discussion then went to scheduling the next meeting. The annual Fire Board meeting is January 23rd. The meeting will begin and 7:00pm with the examination of the books and then will go on to discuss the contract. All Fire Board and City Council will be in attendance.
The meeting was adjourned at 8:35 pm.