Study that shows town pays more than its rural neighbors paves way for negotiations with Newburg
Town of Saukville officials have long wondered whether they were being treated fairly in their annual fire protection contract with the Newburg Fire Department.
The question has come up whenever the fire department’s contract with the town came up for renewal. The current four-year contract expires in August.
Rather than waiting until a new contract is presented, Town Clerk Naomi Bruecker did a little research that she presented to the Town Board last week.
The town’s current contract requires an annual payment of $178,522.
Bruecker said the Town of Cedarburg pays $126,226 in fire dues, $52,296 less than the Town of Saukville. The Town of Fredonia pays $144,000, or $34,522 less.
“I’d like to know what we are getting for our dollar,” she told the board.
Supr. Mike Denzien said such a comparison could give the town an advantage when negotiating a new contract with the fire department.
“At best, it could help us get our fire dues reduced. If nothing else, it couldn’t hurt to let them know we are looking at their numbers,” Denzien said.
Bruecker compiled a chart showing the town’s fire protection costs dating back to 1970, including a cost-per-resident comparison.
In 1970, the town paid $15,000 for fire protection, or $10.10 per resident.
With a population that has grown a little more than 300 people over the past 45 years, Bruecker’s table showed the town is expected to pay $97.44 per resident for fire services in 2015.
The issue of fire protection is a topic of personal concern for Town Chairman Don Hamm, whose family has been hit by fires twice this year.
“Fire trucks are good things to have. Hoses that don’t leak are good to have. A department that can respond quickly is a very good thing,” Hamm said.
He said he would meet with Newburg Fire Chief Mark Chesak before the board is asked to approve a new contract.
During an annual report presented to the board earlier this year, Chesak said his firefighters responded to 32 fire calls in the town last year.
Only one was for a structure fire, three were triggered by alarms, two for grass fires, four for car fires and two because of downed power lines.
The majority of the calls, 19, were to respond to vehicle accidents. In four cases, extrication equipment was needed.
The town also had 37 ambulance calls, with Newburg assisting on 15 of those.
Chesak noted that the department added a 2014 Pierce Quantum pumper to its arsenal last year. The truck has the ability to carry and pump large volumes of water quickly. The new vehicle cost $620,000.
During the annual report, Chesak said he hopes to keep the department’s financial impact on the town in check.
“We will try to keep it as low as possible,” the chief said.
The proposed contract will be ready by the time the town starts working on its 2016 budget, he said.
Chesak used his board appearance as an opportunity to make a pitch for more personnel.
“We are in a big crunch for EMTs. Even getting one more would be a help,” he said.