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 Forwerk
Grant – Doug Moyer
Green Lake – Paul Biondo
Long Lake – Karen Rosa
Paradise – Tim Trudell
Springfield – Tom Gray
Union – Doug Mansfield
Whitewater – Ron Popp
Pat Pahl – Supervisor Blair Twp.,
Blair Chief Jim Carroll,
Daryl Case-Blair EMS
Marv Radtke Jr – Trustee Green Lake
Chief Bill Sedlacek
Acting Chief Mike Stinson
Accountant Dave Milliron
Health & Safety Becca Pruyne
#2 AC Brian Carpenter
#6 Capt Roger Gibson
#6 WSO Steve Marth
#10 Capt John Brown
AGENDA: Motion by Union, supported by Long Lake to move Pat Pahl-Blair Twp. to the top of the Agenda, and approve the Agenda as revised. All ayes. Motion carried.
Pat Pahl – Blair Twp. Supervisor spoke to the Board about “Fire Run Charges to other Twps.”
Blair Budget issues. Mr. Pahl presented a list of Cost Recovery fees similar to what Rural uses for their cost recovery. Discussed charges. It was suggested they try it for a year and re-visit it later if there were any problems. Discussed responses. Chief Carroll said they had some figures to show an example of what the charges would be for runs into the Rural Townships. An example of what Blair would have charged Rural in 2011- $16,100.00 and in 2012 – $21,700.00. There would be no charge for canceled runs.
Tom Gray-Springfield asked Mr. Pahl if he would stop running into Green Lake Township if the Board didn’t agree with the run charge costs. Mr. Pahl answered that he hoped it wouldn’t come to that. He couldn’t answer that because they haven’t gotten to that point.
Chairman Biondo said they would be agreeing to a rate sheet- it’s a mutual aid agreement.
Motion by Union, supported by Paradise to take the Blair Cost Recovery Proposal to Attorney Young and have him submit an agreement for next month’s meeting. All ayes. Motion carried.
Pat Pahl was hoping it could be expedited and ready by June. (Discussion).
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MINUTES: Motion by Springfield, supported by Green Lake to approve the 12/19/12 Minutes as mailed. All ayes. Motion carried.
FINANCIAL REPORTS: Dave Milliron gave reports. December General Operations Budget – Money Market balance is $102,645.58. Discussed long term debt by year. There will be another report next month after more invoices come in. There were some line items overdrawn and there is a recommended Budget Amendment.
Public Improvement balance is $1,387.48
Grant Fund balance is $5.00
Tim Trudell-Paradise asked about the line items for two retirements. Dave told him that #718.000 was for Bill’s Retirement ($12,000.00) Trudell asked about #718.800 Retirement Secretary ($24,059.00). Dave confirmed it was Julie. Trudell “We are paying that amount or that is what totally went in?” Dave said that is what we have to pay. Trudell stated “We are paying $24,000.00 a year for her retirement!” Dave explained that Julie is an employee of the County, and she is in a pool with MERS, and it is underfunded in the group that she is in, so MERS said they have to get to 75% funded within a certain schedule…so we have to make up for that retirement- we are only one unit – and he talked to Dean about it. Chairman Biondo explained some history between the County and Rural. We pay the County for salary, medical, and benefits. Trudell asked if it was ever going to be caught up, or get to a point where we’re not paying $25,000.00 a year for this. Dave said as long as MERS demands it. Gray-Springfield wondered if other like employees at the county had to be paid that, or are they putting it all on Rural’s back? Dave said he would get that information, or maybe someone from the County could explain it to them. For 2013 it will be $29,188.00. Chairman Biondo said Bill’s program is a Social Security opt-out, we pay the disability, and then we put in on the retirement end.
Motion by Springfield, supported by Long Lake to approve the Financial Reports as presented. All ayes. Motion carried.
BUDGET AMENDMENTS FOR 2012: See Budget Amendments. Increase #702.900, #715.000, #934.001 and #748.000 for a total of $2,653.66. Decrease #716.800, #932.000 and #742.000 for a total of $2,653.66. Motion by Long Lake, supported by Fife Lake to approve the recommended Budget Amendments. All ayes. Motion carried.
Dave asked if the Board needed any more information on the Financial Reports. Mansfield-Union told Dave that the reports are fine.
CLAIMS: Pre-Authorized Claims – $43,100.41. Motion by Union, supported by Springfield to approve the Pre-Authorized Claims in the amount of $43,100.41. All ayes. Motion carried.
Open Invoices – $33,280.14. Motion by Union, supported by Long Lake to approve the Open Invoices in the amount of $33,280.14. All ayes. Motion carried.
Payroll approval: 12/6/12 – $7,092.86 and 12/20/12 – $7,158.57. Motion by Long Lake, supported by Union, to approve the Payroll amounts as presented. All ayes. Motion carried.
CORRESPONDENCE: Letter from KDP Retirement Plan Services, Inc. informing Rural Fire
of Chief Sedlacek’s retirement plan reconciliation for the 2012 Plan. Dave explained the process.
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R E P O R T S
Budget/Finance: No report.
Equipment: Chief Sedlacek reported Ladder 2 and Tower 10 have been repaired and are back in service.
Personnel: No report.
CHIEF REPORT: Chief Sedlacek said he needs direction from the Board for the rest of his time in the Rural Fire Department. He stated that he is in full retirement mode but comes in everyday to sign invoices and takes care of anything else that comes up. Chairman Biondo said they have an agreement and discussed the agreement. Mansfield-Union said “all he needs to do is what he is doing.”
Doug Mansfield-Union stated he wanted to speak openly. “I need to understand what this thing is about anymore – what is the value of having this Board?” Chairman Biondo explained that they have five stations, and a Rural Fire Agreement with 8 townships. Mansfield stated that “a third of our Budget is going to Administration, and I gotta know what the value is as we are asked to put out money in different areas. Are we saving on insurance, are we communicating better, are we recruiting better – what is the savings of being a joint department? Tom Gray – Springfield said he wanted to go around the table and poll the members to see what the townships want to do – stay or leave Rural. Gray said he polled his Board members, and if Rural stays fire they will stay, if it goes Fire Based EMS they will leave. Gray said if they do disband it will take at least a year. Gray said everyone should ask their own Township Boards what they want to do. Discussed mutual aid payments.
Tim Trudell- Paradise referred to the proposed “Office Administrator Job Description” handed out last month …” was met with Julie pretty much chewing me out that it was wrong, met with all these guys saying this is wrong, this is wrong, this is wrong but then everybody says there’s gotta be change. We presented you with change and nobody wants to do it. I’ll tell you right now Paradise Township is looking to get out. We have already investigated it, and I’ve already contacted some people.”
Mansfield-Union asked about the “pros” to staying together such as saving money.
Chairman Biondo said they have adopted a 2013 Budget. “In the meantime we have a commitment to the townships and we are not going to stop doing that. We have an operation right now with a person retiring out, and some other things. We have an agreement with Bill.”
Mansfield-Union said the idea was that Bill was going to break in a new Fire Chief, but in the last six months things have changed too much. Chairman Biondo said the job description was not finished. Trudell said “…the job description was presented last month and met with a lot of adversity because it was “…no more Fire Chief, hire an Administrator”…shut this place down and move to Station 2, and nobody liked that idea. All these cost savings, and nobody wants to do it.” Chief Sedlacek said “that was not a job description, whether you like it or not we are a fire department…it’s been run like a fire department.”
Chairman Biondo reiterated that they have a contract, they have an agreement, they have a system, they have thick books on the shelves on how they operate, and it’s all based upon a Fire Chief for Rural, so you can’t just say they are not going to do that..
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Chief Report discussion continued: Acting Chief Mike Stinson said he doesn’t have time to do a lot of things that need to be done such as personnel issues, interviews, disciplinary measures, etc. Chief Stinson has a full-time job at Green Lake Township and it’s not a financial issue. Chief Sedlacek said he would be happy to do some of the things Chief Stinson doesn’t have time to do, but he won’t do them for $1,000 a month. Discussion about the Chief Agreement. Mansfield-Union said …”the chiefs they have in place at the stations are fully capable good people that can handle the operations…and if they have any personnel problems he would like to hear about them right now, because every one of the personnel problems during the last two years has blown up in my face…so paying the bills and making sure the equipment is done, I am looking at the duties here…we need somebody to handle financing in the future and human resource issues… it’s not about operations. I would rather distribute some of this money that goes to Admin because we are so top-heavy in our Budget- that we need to get this money back into the stations. We need to get out of the lease here. I think we can get someone to efficiently and effectively handle this. Things have been disseminated in the last couple years between Rebecca handling some stuff, the computer world, accounting, we have to get this thing back down to where the dollars are working. We have 1/3 of our Budget going to this building and two people right now.”… Trudell-Paradise said Paradise Township has already offered up Station #2’s offices at a substantial reduction in rental fees, and it was looked upon like it was a joke. Chairman Biondo asked how it was looked upon as a joke. Trudell replied that the secretary decided to take it upon herself to bring it to my attention in the middle of the meeting.
Julie stated she apologized.
Chairman Biondo read a part of the Chief Sedlacek’s Agreement …”January 2013 to July 2013 $1,000.00 paid bi-weekly…” Chairman Biondo said he worried about changing agreements.
Ron Popp-Whitewater asked for a copy of the Agreement and a copy of the 2013 Budget.
Popp stated that what he was hearing was “dysfunction on a grand scale.”
Chairman Biondo asked Chief Sedlacek if he wanted to make a proposal.
Mansfield-Union said it was hard to justify more pay when duties are not being done. He said he has asked for justification for whats being done and what needs to be done. Mansfield stated
“$300,000.00 a year is going to 2 people and a building – I’m tired of the look.”
Mansfield said it was time to form a committee and hire a consultant to take this thing apart and see where the value is. Chairman Biondo said he wanted to hear from the Board members first before they hire a consultant. Linda Forwerk – Fife Lake Township stated that she was new and didn’t understand all of the issues, and would need information to take back to her Board, such as what are the benefits of staying or going. Chairman Biondo said the answer for each municipality will differ slightly.
Trudell-Paradise asked if they could have a recess at 2:10 p.m., so Marv Radtke, Jr. could address the Board about the Septage Treatment special assessment. Motion by Union, supported by Long Lake to recess and give Mr. Radtke the floor. All ayes. Motion carried. Mr. Radtke updated the Board about special assessments, a temporary restraining order and a permanent injunction involving the BPW. They were prepping for a full trial. Question and answer Discussion. Recess over and Meeting called back to order at 2:34 p.m.
Karen Rosa-Long Lake stated she has been a proponent of the fire department for 24 years. It has been a good organization, but recently it has been kind of questionable. She said she has to pay over 1/3 of the Rural Budget and asks what the benefits are. They are looking at leaving.
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Trudell-Paradise said they presented something the Board didn’t like. Popp-Whitewater asked what it was. Trudell said they proposed the Chief become an Administrator, because they have “chiefs” in every station who can do operations. Popp asked if it was in writing. Trudell said yes, and they also proposed closing this facility and moving it to where Rural is actually represented, because this isn’t even Rural’s jurisdiction. Trudell said there would be a replacement of Chief Sedlacek and possibly Julie, and those are the only ones that would move.
Chairman Biondo asked what they wanted to do about Bill’s request. Mansfield-Union said they need to make sure administratively they are living up to their duties, by paying bills and seeing that contracts are signed, etc. That is all that needs to be done.
Chief Sedlacek stated that the “chiefs” don’t have time to do the things they have to do now, let alone add on other duties.
Chief Sedlacek stated he has 44 years into this and he is being avoided by the Board. Mansfield said he was not being “avoided” – these are Board level decisions. Mansfield stated he looks at the liabilities, human resources and financing which is what they really need here, “none of the education of coming up through the department has to do with the huge liability of human resources, HPPA, MIOSHA, etc. that have been issues the past few years.”
Linda Forwerk- Fife Lake said she needs to speak with Tom Gray and Roger Gibson and come up with a list of questions, and other townships may have questions, to send them to a committee to be compiled to work towards answers to these questions. Linda said with Bill retiring they need to get serious about a change in administration either way. Mansfield-Union said they want to bring in an administrator to handle the office, and the operations, fire reporting could be done at another level, we charge the Captains with more duties and pay them more.
Mansfield stated they became a group because at the time the townships couldn’t bond to get fire trucks, and as a unit they could. Now townships are a lot different and financing is a lot different.
Trudell said he wants to get a consulting firm to look at it as a whole. Trudell said “We don’t want to leave, but if we can leave to save money, get better service, and represent our area better, yeah we are going to leave.” Chief Sedlacek stated they can’t get better service. Trudell said that “what they were running into, there are not enough fire fighters, not enough pride…there are a lot of them ready to leave because they are frustrated.” Doug Moyer-Grant said “what it seems to hinge on is what Green Lake, Paradise and Long Lake decide to do. If you three decide to leave it doesn’t matter what Grant Township does. From Grant Township’s perspective if we don’t iron out the situation with Blair and Buckley then Grant will go the way of Mayfield. You have to decide who is committed and who is not.”
Forwerk-Fife Lake asked if they could set a time goal and see how far they get. Mansfield-Union said Bill was done in July, and he wants to identify what needs to be done so they can finance it appropriately. Forwerk-Fife Lake said everyone could come back in February with questions and shoot for an April or May meeting with some direction. Could the Chief have a list of what needs to be done?
Ron Popp-Whitewater said there was a question whether Rural Fire still meets their individual needs. Should each Township answer that question?
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Popp asked who would take care of the technical maintenance of the apparatus. The answer is EVP – Brian Carpenter who is contracted. Popp asked who makes decisions about pump tests, hose tests, etc. Manfield said that was the Captains job. Popp said he was not sure they could handle that, because there are so many different aspects, and NFPA schedules. Mansfield-Union said “Roger you are saying in your mind you could handle that?” Roger Gibson said he has been handling it for 20 years. Gibson said everything is done on a weekly or monthly basis, a complete inspection is done on every truck, if something needs to be fixed they call Brian Carpenter. Brian Carpenter said they have check sheets to follow.
Motion by Forwerk-Fife Lake, supported by Mansfield-Union to have each member go back to their Board and compile a list of questions and concerns that they need answered to understand the value of Rural Fire in today’s world. To be listed on the February 20th meeting Agenda. All ayes. Motion carried.
Chairman Biondo said they have six months to decide if they stay or go. Chairman Biondo said there is a certain amount of value to Rural Fire. There is a cost to doing it on your own, there are a lot of unknowns. Vice Chair Mansfield said it’s only been the last couple years that things have gotten out of hand.
Chief Sedlacek stated that long ago they had an “administrator” and the station chiefs ate him alive…and I was included in that…because you couldn’t go after a widget because he didn’t know what kind of widget you wanted. Chief Sedlacek stated that hiring someone without fire experience is crazy and it would make us more liable. We have fire investigations and fire inspections – who is going to do those? Trudell answered that the station chiefs could do the investigations – they are trained for it. Chief Sedlacek said that not all the chiefs are trained for it. (Roger and Mike said they were).
Mansfield said they had to understand that a third of their budget goes toward this building. They are in tough times. Chief Sedlacek said an Administrator needs to understand the fire service. Trudell said they could have someone with a fire background, but they already have station chiefs who could fight fires.
RTC: Chief Sedlacek reported the new RTC Chair is Chief Jim Tuller from City Fire.
Chief Sedlacek reported FF 1 & 2 is on-going and Officer Classes just had their final tests.
Chief Sedlacek said they have cut the Budget as the Board has asked, which has put them in the state they are in now, regardless of the times, fire departments have to survive.
Doug Mansfield-Union stated there was no reason to pay $150,000.00 for two people in the office. Mansfield left the Board meeting.
ACTING CHIEF: Chief Stinson reported on some minor fires. Chief Stinson reported they have 4 requests for Bids for the Wildfire Unit for a grant from the DNR.
Chief Stinson said the area fire departments need a new fit test machine because they share their resources, and would like to apply for a $8,000.00 Homeland Security Grant under Metro.
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Chief Stinson reported they are trying to get standardized for ice and water rescue training, and he wants to pursue the Community Risk Reduction Grant ($5,000.00) available through Paul Olson’s insurance company. Becca has done some preliminary work on it, and is working on a Resolution for the Board.
HEALTH & SAFETY OFFICER: Becca reported that the Physicals were under way. Becca reported they are getting Engine 3 ready for the Medical First Response State Inspection. They do one truck a year. Becca reported that she is working on a bulk medical supply order.
The required training schedule for 2013 is ready for approval from the captains. They are compliant with MIOSHA. Becca asked if they wanted her to continue keeping track of her hours. Chairman Biondo said to keep doing it.
UNFINISHED BUSINESS: *Pat Pahl’s presentation was moved to top of Agenda.
*Mayfield Township run charges (Mayfield didn’t attend) Chairman Biondo said to put Buckley on the next Agenda. Chief Carroll said they already have a contract with Mayfield and Buckley. Chief Carroll will send it to the Board.
*Job description – Trudell said they need to work on it some more.
NEW BUSINESS: *Appoint members to Budget/Finance/Insurance, Equipment and Personnel Committees. Budget/Finance is kept the same with Karen Rosa, Tom Gray and Paul Biondo.
Equipment will be Doug Moyer and Tim Trudell and the station chiefs.
Personnel Committee: Trudell asked what the reason was for having a Personnel Committee, because it is the Chiefs position to deal with personnel. Isn’t it a form of micro-management, the purpose should only be to deal with the Chief. If there is a problem let the Chief handle it.
Chief Sedlacek said the last couple years the chain of command wasn’t followed. Chief Stinson said there are a lot of personnel issues he handles, “maybe you could have an appeals process if what the Chief says doesn’t settle it.” Chairman Biondo said if an issue did come up they could appoint an Ad Hoc Committee for a specific issue. Trudell stated that” if I was a fire fighter who messed up I wouldn’t want to be brought up in front of the Board or a committee, I would hope that my Chief would handle it, disciplinary actions would happen, and move on…rather than brought out in public. Chief Sedlacek said that most issues are handled at the station level.
Secretary Julie asked who she would go to if she had a problem with a fire fighter or officer. Trudell said go to Chief Sedlacek. Julie answered that he was not really here anymore for that. Trudell said go to Acting Chief Stinson. Julie asked if there was a problem with a station captain who would get him in line. Trudell said the Acting Chief. Julie said she had some things she wanted to talk to the personnel committee about, and she talked to Chief Stinson. Trudell said if you didn’t like the answer you could come to the Board have an appeal process, and have it documented. Julie said okay she was just checking.
Motion by Fife Lake, supported by Whitewater to approve the Budget/Finance and Equipment committees as appointed. All ayes. Motion carried.
New Business continued: *Meeting Calendar: Change summer hours to 6:00 p.m. from May to October the third Wednesday. Tim will see about changing Paradise meeting to the 2nd Wednesday. Linda Forwerk said the time on Wed. would not work. They set February 20th to 1:00 p.m. They will look at the other months at the February meeting.
Motion by Moyer, supported by Long Lake to have February 20th meeting at 1:00 and discuss other times at that meeting. All ayes. Motion carried.
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PUBLIC INPUT: Sherry Sprenger spoke. She said she has had some grievances toward Long Lake-Station #10. She asked about the “chain of command” not being followed, issues were not handled properly. Probation is not standard between all the departments. It is up to the chief or captain as to how long the probation lasts. She also wondered why Long Lake Township minutes were not posted in July. Karen has told her to come to the Rural Board for any answers. Sherry said she thought they needed a Fire Chief from out of the area who would be unbiased. Sherry thought things have been run into the ground. She is hoping some changes will be made.
Roger Gibson asked to speak. Roger said he agreed about the discipline issue. Roger said he hopes the discipline issues would not turn into a “witch hunt” like they did before. We need more communication about who is going to decide what kind of “witch hunt” someone is going to go on, because I didn’t like the last “witch hunt” that happened, and I don’t want to see another one, and I feel vibrations coming from the secretary here that says she is going to go after Roger Gibson through Mike Stinson, so I don’t want to see that happen. Julie asked Roger if she said that. Roger said “no, but I felt that way.” Roger asked if the Board was just going to put out contracts to contract people to provide fire protection –“This sounds like what you are going to do.” Roger talked about the application process. Roger said a Board member needed to come to the officer meetings.
Tom Gray- Springfield congratulated and Dave for keeping them well informed on the Budget, and for working on fire truck loans, and ending up with leftover monies, and also thanked Bill for helping on it, and approving the invoices.
Julie asked to speak. “Roger brought my name up so I would like him to tell the board what he did to me. And what kind of anti-Rural attitude – I would like the Board to help me get the reports on time every month. I would like the gear back that he’s been holding for a couple years from people that retired.” Roger said he was leaving too because he had enough and left the room.
Commotion- I can have someone come speak for me. Julie continued “Roger has been causing so much trouble for 20 years. I have devoted my life to this department for 20 years – kept you legal … when MIOSHA walked into my office they looked through every personnel and training record, etc., they said I had some of the best record keeping they had ever seen and therefore the fine was not going to be larger. So I think that should be considered, because if they come into your little stations, and want to see everything they asked me for, I don’t think you can supply it, not in any short time. What about all these records and equipment we keep here, it’s not gonna fit in Paradise. And it wouldn’t be fair for Paradise to have everything there and people have to run across the county…they might feel it is bias.
Anyway back to Roger. I heard he has a Facebook post advertising for former Station 6 fire fighters to rejoin the Fife Lake Township Fire Dept. There is no Fife Lake Township Fire Dept. He has never accepted Rural, he drove our first Chief crazy. He won’t listen to Bill obviously- ever. There is a problem now. There used to be a lot of people on Station 6…I have talked to many of them and know why they left – because Roger drove them out….of course there is nobody to take his place, he has made sure of that.”
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Julie said “We just hired another guy spent thousands putting him through school and Roger is after him now. No reason. The guy is committed and certified. Roger told this guy that he needs permission to come to the Admin office, accused the guy of hanging out with me, and I have only seen the guy to give him equipment…he has forbidden this guy to hang out at Station #6. We pay Fife Lake for station rent for Rural equipment and to pay for Rural fire fighters to work there. Roger belongs to Rural. It’s not the Roger Fife Lake Township Fire Department. Chief Sedlacek said “I think your 3 minutes are up”. Julie replied that was the gist of it.
Linda Forwerk- Fife Lake had to leave for another meeting.
Daryl Case – Blair Township reported on the “Smart 911 System” that they want the County to pick up out of their coffers. Daryl said we would be the first county in the state of Michigan to be a Smart 911 Carrier which they could get a discount rate for. ($14,000.00 a year-5 year contract). It will go to the “Public Safety Committee” in a couple of weeks. It is based on your inputting the information by computer – medical history, contact numbers, residences, etc. Every deputy can automatically input the information from that system. Chief Stinson asked about updating information. Daryl said it will prompt every 6 months for updating information. Becca said she spoke to Jason Torry who said it is strictly volunteer, but it sounds awesome. Daryl asked the Board to pass along this information. Contact Commissioners to do it.
No other business. Meeting adjourned 4:05 p.m.