Village OKs agreement to keep Grafton chief at helm

Saukville to expand pact for fire department oversight through end of this year
By 
ERIC A. JOHNSON
Ozaukee Press Staff

Village of Saukville trustees on Tuesday unanimously approved an agreement that will keep Grafton Fire Chief Bill Rice at the helm of Saukville’s department through this year.

The Village of Saukville entered into an intergovernmental agreement with Grafton last October to provide administrative support to the Saukville Fire Department through Rice’s oversite. The current intergovernmental agreement will expire on April 30.         

The Grafton Finance Committee on April 5 recommended the Village Board approve the agreement when it meets on April 19.

The extension comes against the backdrop of last month’s unveiling of the results of a seven-month Wisconsin Policy Forum (WPF) study of staffing and operations at the Ozaukee County fire departments in Belgium, Cedarburg, Fredonia, Grafton, Mequon, Port Washington, Saukville, Thiensville and Waubeka.

The complete 59-page report and a nine-page summary brief, are available online at wispolicyforum.org/research/first-response-addressing-fire-and-emergency-medical-service-challenges-in-ozaukee-county/.

The study, conducted at the behest of Ozaukee County municipal leaders, concludes that fire and emergency medical services (EMS) responders in Ozaukee County would benefit from greater intergovernmental collaboration as they grapple with increasing calls for service, staff recruitment and retention hurdles and service response times that lag behind comparable areas.

“(The paid-on-call) approach has generally served these communities well over time,” the study finds. “Yet, it is also evident that (it) is now showing severe signs of distress. These signs began to emerge several years ago but have now intensified in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.”

The study’s purpose was not to recommend a specific strategy, but to develop a range of options for new collaborative approaches.

“It’s the staff recommendation that we move forward with this,” Saukville Village Administrator Dawn Wagner said of the extension agreement with the Village of Grafton, which begins May 1 and ends on  Dec. 31. “It would give us some time to continue to look at what our next steps are. Obviously the countywide study was just finalized. [Wisconsin Policy Forum President] Rob Henken is still doing presentations around the county.”

Under the terms of the intergovernmental extension agreement, Saukville is to pay $300 per week in monthly installments to the Grafton Fire Protection and Rescue Service Fund. A rate of $64 per hour shall be charged for services provided by the Village of Grafton for time in excess of six hours during a given week.

The agreement may be terminated without cause by either party upon 30 days written notice to the other party.

 

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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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