Meeting Minutes February 2013

February 20, 2013


The regular meeting of the Grand Traverse Rural Fire Board was called to order at 1:00 p.m., by Chairman Paul Biondo, at 4123 Vance Road, Traverse City, MI  49685.


Roll call – 8 members, a quorum


Fife Lake – Linda Forwerck

Grant – Doug Moyer

Green Lake – Paul Biondo

Long Lake – Karen Rosa

Paradise – Tim Trudell

Springfield – Tom Gray

Union – Doug Mansfield

Whitewater – Ron Popp

Chief Bill Sedlacek

Dave Milliron – Accountant

#2 AC Brian Carpenter

Chief Jim Tuller – City Fire

Capt Theo Weber – City Fire

Chief Jim Carroll – Blair Twp. FD

Pat Pahl – Supervisor Blair Twp.



AGENDA:    Motion by Springfield, supported by Fife Lake to approve the Agenda as presented.  All ayes.  Motion carried.


MINUTES:   Motion by Long Lake, supported by Whitewater to approve the 01/16/13 Minutes as mailed.  All ayes.  Motion carried.


FINANCIAL REPORT:    Dave Milliron gave reports.  The General Op. Fund Money Market balance is $199,019.38.   Cost Control Centers and Line Items have positive balances.

Public Improvement Fund balance is $1,387.66

Grant Fund balance is $5.00

The final 2012 Budget was discussed.  Previous adjustments had been made.   Fund balance monies were used to pay off two trucks (Fife Lake & Paradise) $94,925.00.

Motion by Long Lake, supported by Springfield to approve the Financial Reports as presented.  All ayes.  Motion carried.


CLAIMS:   Pre-Authorized $4,463.03.    Motion by Union, supported by Long Lake to approve the Pre-Authorized Claims for $4,463.03.  All ayes.  Motion carried.


Open Invoices $49,397.16.   Motion by Fife Lake, supported by Springfield to approve the Open Invoices in the amount of $49,397.16.   All ayes.  Motion carried.

Gray-Springfield wondered if they could get a cost breakdown of vehicle repair parts and labor from EVP for 2012.  Chief Sedlacek said they were working on that.


Payroll Approval:   $3,561.39, $3,954.58, $4,103.17.   Motion by Long Lake, supported by Union to approve the three referenced payrolls.   All ayes.  Motion carried.


CORRESPONDENCE:    From GT County – MERS Valuation report for Julie Dunham.

Discussion.     Chairman Biondo said they set a Budget for 2013 and have funds to pay MERS.




Budget/Finance:   No report

Equipment:   No report


CHIEF REPORT:   Chief Sedlacek introduced Chief Jim Tuller from City Fire who is the new RTC Director.


RTC:     Chief Tuller reported on the classes.  They are working on a burn room.   They have formed a committee to look at equipment and do inventory for maintenance.   He plans to attend other Rural meetings as his schedule permit.  Chief Tuller discussed RTC history, goals and functions.   Chief Tuller said RTC could host a meeting in the summer.


UNFINISHED BUSINESS:   *Blair Township – Pat Pahl.   Chairman Biondo said the contract was discussed with Attorney Young.   They have a revised run charge rate form.   They want the attorney to bring the contract.    It will be “reciprocal” and retroactive back to January.

Dave Milliron said he would make a new line item under Contract Services.   Chief Carroll will get the 2012 run numbers.   Pat Pahl said the Blair Board ok’d the rates.

*Mayfield – (John Ockert has not attended meetings) Pat Pahl said Blair has a 2 year contract with Mayfield.   Mayfield is supposed to pay each entity $13,000.00.   Buckley has the same agreement as Blair.   Rural has not seen a contract.   They would like to present something to Buckley and get their reaction.  Discussed Rural rates for the run charge ordinance.   Not exactly the same as rates for Blair.  They will have the Accumed rates at the next meeting.


*Job description for Chief/Administrator was presented in December.  No action was taken.


NEW BUSINESS:   *Supervisor’s list of questions and concerns to understand value of Rural Fire in todays world.    Linda Forwerck had a list to go over.   Board discussed each item on list and revised and added to the list.  List broken down to Reasons to stay and Reasons to dissolve.

Discussed reasons to stay:  Mansfield-Union referred to the first item “Liability insurance” – Tim Trudell interjected that he got a quote from Paul Olson for insurance and it was only $6,700.00 for a year.  Discussed Insurance.  Discussed Training.  Discussed Equipment in each station.   Tim Trudell stated that (according to the Urban Cooperation Agreement) if Rural dissolved the equipment in each station stays with that station after all assets are dissolved.  Discussed Management & Oversight.  Chief Sedlacek said another reason to stay was that they spent 3 years getting a new ISO rating.  It is a valuable common benefit that has reduced insurance costs for a large percentage of the Rural population.   Discussed ISO.  Discussed buying power, bulk purchasing,  grants received.

Reasons to dissolve:  Discussed Staff overhead – large percentage of budget.  Building lease and maintenance–analyze expenses– speak to owner.   Chief Sedlacek stated that any Rural fire station was too small to house all the files and equipment stored in the Admin office – he didn’t want to see Rural housed in a locker.   Forwerck-Fife Lake was concerned about the controversy at the January meeting and recent public comments.  Mansfield-Union stated they have had many peaceful years but the last few years they have had some substantial firefighter human resource issues.   Forwerck wondered if complaints could be handled and closed.   Springfield referred to comments during Public Input.  Chairman Biondo said it is the public’s right to speak.  Mansfield-Union stated that this was a ‘transparent’ Board, those Boards who get in the paper are the ones who don’t do things transparently.




Springfield said they need to post the Chief/Administrator job.  They need someone to do the day-to-day job.  Chairman Biondo said they need a consensus to move forward, and there will be controversy until they do.   Discussed Chief duties and what they need for an administrator.   Popp-Whitewater wondered who knows what they need so they can pick a fire administrator.

Chief Sedlacek said they needed someone with a fire department experience background, because they have 60 fire fighters to deal with.    It’s a militaristic organization.


Chairman Biondo said they needed to move on and set a time for the March meeting.   Board of review is going on during the week of March 18 and then spring break, so most of the members won’t be available on March 20th.   The board decided to meet Thursday – March 7 at 6:00 p.m.   Motion by Fife Lake, supported by Whitewater to hold the next board meeting March 7th at 6:00 p.m..  All ayes.  Motion carried.  


Calendar: Set times for April and other months.  Tim Trudell said he can’t meet the third Wednesday because that is Paradise Township’s meeting night.  They agreed to bring their calendars to the March meeting and plan for April and the other months.


Continue with Supervisor’s List:    Chairman Biondo said the Agreement they are under with the formula is not changeable.   Tim Trudell said Rural Fire may have outlived its usefulness because it has gotten so top-heavy.  Trudell said he has a list too, of what the Paradise Township Board wants to see changed, but he is not going to present it, because it will tick people off.   Popp-Whitewater said the controversy stems from people being so passionate about the issues.  

Forwerck-Fife Lake said a big issue was Julie’s retirement- is the County being fair with Rural?  Trudell said he called four different counties and Tim asked them what they did about MERS. They said they just stopped paying the MERS because the high cost was not their fault – there is nothing in writing that says they won’t fund your retirees if you don’t pay it.  Trudell said his question was “why are we paying it- because the County says we have to pay it”.  Chairman Biondo said it’s the Agreement with them.  Trudell said “it’s our agreement to pay $26,000.00 a year soon to be $29,000.00.  It’s not our fault.”  Trudell said “I’ll just come right out and say it- let’s give them their contract back and hire somebody else. It may hurt some feelings.”  Chairman Biondo said it’s more than hurt feelings, there are legal obligations.  Forwerck asked if they could go to the county and ask if Rural has any say in it.

Union said she could speak to Dean Bott, but ultimately you need to get a County Commissioner there, since it’s up to them.  Trudell said MERS messed up, they didn’t look to the future, and it’s their fault.  Mansfield-Union said they should ask Atty. Jim Young to look at the County Agreement.  Mansfield-Union made a motion, supported by Moyer-Grant to ask Atty. Jim Young to look at the County Agreement and describe what Julie is, and if they are responsible for the MERS payment.  All ayes.  Motion carried.    Mansfield-Union will contact Jim Young.

Forwerck said she didn’t want Julie to take offense because this is strictly a business thing they are trying to understand.

Linda Forwerck will revise the list and have Julie send it out to all the Board members.


Chairman Biondo had to leave at 2:48.  Vice-Chair Doug Mansfield took over the meeting.


Discussed Ladder truck from the GT Band that is housed at Station #2.    The Band would like it back at Station #3.   The truck is too long for Station #3.




PUBLIC INPUT:   Linda Forwerck stated she had a comment about her fire chief (Capt. Roger Gibson).  She has a lot of respect for him.  He is also their EMS Director.  As controversial as his personality can be, she doesn’t know what they would do without him.

It’s not a 24 hour fix there.  They rely on him.  Discussion.


Gray-Springfield Discussed posting the Chief/Administrator job posting.

The Board discussed aspects of the Department Chief position.


Vice-Chair Mansfield said they would discuss the Chief/Administrator job posting at the March workshop.    They will have a business meeting first and then do a study session.


No other business.


Meeting adjourned 3:14 p.m.