Municipal agreement divides up fire department’s equipment, $2 million in funds as part of restructuring plan
The Village and Town of Grafton have finalized an agreement that gives each municipality a share of the Grafton Fire Department’s assets.
The accord, approved by the Town Board last week and the Village Board on Monday, calls for the department to “donate all of its equipment, supplies, gear, motor vehicles and trucks of any kind” as well as other personal property to the village.
In addition, department funds totaling $2 million will be donated to the municipalities, with the village receiving 60%, or $1.2 million, and the town given 40%, or $812,000. The percentages are based on a longtime cost-sharing agreement used by the municipalities for department operations.
The distribution of assets is a corollary to an intergovernmental pact approved in March that changed the all-volunteer department from private, nonprofit status to a village-run operation the town hires for fire protection and emergency medical services.
The changes were made after voters in both municipalities approved major department upgrades in a November 2012 referendum, including the hiring of Grafton’s first full-time fire chief, William Rice, in July.
Village Administrator Darrell Hofland said the assets-sharing agreement, which goes into effect Oct. 1, helps complete the transfer of department operations to the village and ensure the continuation of efficient, cost-effective fire and ambulance service.
Under the agreement, money given to the village and town must be placed in separate capital accounts reserved for the purchase and maintenance of department vehicles and equipment.
The department is allowed to retain $50,000 of its cash balance for ongoing expenses and keep computer equipment, office furniture, artwork, historical artifacts and a 1923 vintage fire truck currently stored at the fire station, 1431 13th Ave.
The department will continue to use the station as its base of operations. Previously, the village-owned building was leased to the department for $1 annually.
The referendum, which was passed by 64% of village voters and 55% of town voters, called for residents of both communities to pay a combined annual increase of $410,085 to upgrade the department.
The cost include $105,000 in salary and benefits for a full-time chief and $305,000 for part-time emergency medical technicians and per-call payments of $20 for firefighters and emergency medical responders.
Under the agreement approved in March, the village’s Public Safety Committee was restructured to included town representatives. The renamed Public Safety Commission now includes three village representatives and two town members, with the latter two only allowed to vote on fire department-related items.
The agreement also requires the village to submit the department’s proposed budget and other financial records to the town for annual review.
In a related item, the Village Board is expected to approve spending $5,900 to replace the phone system at the fire station.
In a report to the Public Safety Commission, Rice asked for an upgrade of the current system, which lacks an automated attendant, voicemail and front-door intercom. He said residents have complained about the system and an inability to leave non-emergency messages unless they call the police department.
The lowest of three bids for the replacement system, which ranged from $5,900 to $7,800, was submitted by Allied Technologies On-Line of Mequon.