Department poised to move into vacated Village Hall office space
After months of debate, officials from the village and town of Belgium and its fire department finally have an agreement in place defining responsibilities for the three parties.
In an effort to refresh an agreement that was last signed in December 1964, Gerry Antoine, the village’s attorney, drafted an agreement laying out details of fire protection and emergency medical services between the three parties.
“The parties previously entered into an agreement regarding ownership of firefighting equipment and vehicles, fire protection responsibilities and services, budgeting and payment for fire protection services,” the agreement states.
Fire Chief Dan Birenbaum said the department’s officers are planning to meet Thursday to discuss the agreement.
Village President Rich Howells said the Village Board plans to sign the agreement at its Monday, June 8, meeting.
As part of the terms of the five-year contract, a portion of the Town of Belgium known as Dacada will be serviced by the Belgium Fire Department beginning Jan. 1, 2016.
That area, also known as Section 6, had previously been serviced by the Random Lake Fire Department.
“The last thing the town wants to say is that we’re not happy with Random Lake,” Town Chairman Tom Winker said.
“Now that they (Random Lake) have moved much of their operations to the west side of the village, it’s probably about the same distance for each department to get to Dacada.”
Winker said he consulted with Town of Fredonia Chairman Rich Mueller on how their partnership with the Waubeka Fire Department works.
He said that department provides mutual aid services to the villages of Random Lake, Saukville, Newburg and Fredonia.
“I have no bitter feelings whether we move Dacada to the Belgium department or not, I just think it would be easier for our clerk,” Winker said.
The agreement also states that the fire department owns all vehicles and equipment. In the event of a sale, the department will retain the proceeds and apply it towards its operating budget.
Village officials are also poised to donate space it used for its Village Hall to the fire department.
Utility costs for the old Village Hall space will be split between the town and village the same way it is with the fire department with the town picking up 60% of costs based on equalized property value, according to the agreement.
As soon as an agreement is signed, the fire department would start moving some of its operations to the new space, said Rescue Captain Cindy Large.
Howells said he would like to eventually see the old Village Hall space used for educational programs like CPR training.
“That space would be an opportune classroom,” he said.
Town of Belgium resident Tom Peterson praised village and town officials for working together on the agreement, but questioned the fire department’s need for more space.
“We were told two years ago that you guys didn’t need more space,” Peterson said. “What has changed?”
Birenbaum said the fire department could use more office space, but knew the town and village weren’t going to add on to the building two years ago.
“Right now we have one office,” he said.
Peterson also asked about the possible need to move the fire department to a new location in the future.
“You ought to be concerned about expenses,” he said. “If we’re not controlling every dime we spend, we’re not being responsible.”