GRAND TRAVERSE RURAL FIRE BOARD MEETING MINUTES
4123 Vance Road
Traverse City, MI 49685
Phone: (231) 943-9721 •Website: www.gtfire.org • Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
September 17, 2015
Special ADR Meeting held at 10:00 a.m.
Hagerty Center-Northwestern Michigan College
Chairman Tim Trudell Vice-Chair Doug Mansfield Treasurer Karen Rosa
Members: 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.
- Roll Call –Fife Lake-Present, Grant-Absent-Excused, Green Lake-Present, Long Lake-Present, Paradise –Present, Springfield-Present, Union-Present, Whitewater-Present
- Public Comment
- No public comment made.
- Item of Discussion
- Richard Figura leading Alternate Dispute Resolution Mediation Meeting.
Chairman Trudell opened the meeting with a concern of a possible violation of the OMA involving the budget discussion that is to take place in today’s ADR meeting. The question was posed to Mr. Figura for his opinion.
Mr. Figura clarified that he is not attorney for the Board and he believes that this meeting was posted as a Mediation meeting and this special meeting is open to the public for that purpose, and as long as this Board is not discussing the budget for the purpose of adopting one, but rather than you are looking at budget information to help you in the mediation discussion, personally he does not see a problem with that, as long as the Board is not taking action on the budget.
The Chairman added an additional public comment to the agenda. There was no public comment made.
Mr. Figura inquired if there was a problem with any members to continue with this mediation, due to the fact that one member of the Board was not present. Most all members related that although they wish Grant was here, because he is a valued member and offers great insight, but they feel the need to proceed without Grant; Paradise related he has a little bit of an issue that Grant is not being here, because he plays an important logistical role if Green Lake leaves. Paradise agrees that there is a lot of work to do, but he would rather do it as a whole Board, but we will proceed.
Mr. Figura discussed an overview of the last meeting. He made reference to the information distributed to all today from the Accountant based off of the requested information from Special Meeting held September 10, 2015, named “ Township Revenue 2016 (summary based off of .72, .75, .80, .85 mils) and a budget comparison sheet revenue and expenditures. It was his understanding that the Accountant put this together last night and/or early this morning, which are four scenarios showing what the revenues would be at .72 mils, .75 then another .80 & .85, with a summary of what the revenues would look like.
Long Lake reported that her Township Board did make a motion to withdrawal, and they were definite on our withdrawal. Long Lake just wanted to make it clear.
Mr. Figura confirmed the chain of events involving Long Lake’s withdrawal. The first question is, where you stand assuming Green Lake withdrawals.
A question was posed to Green Lake as to where they stand.
Green Lake mentioned the chain of events with the budget of both Green Lake and Long Lake out, and mentioned there was no consensus on what to do.
Further discussion took place questioning if Green Lake was in or out, due to the huge difference it would make with the budget. The budget that the Administration posed a positive figure with Green Lake in and a negative of $46,000 without Green Lake.
Green Lake related that Green Lake Township never vetted out that budget yet. It was similar with the one they are working with Green Lake out. We haven’t gone through that budget and it certainly is a good model. Green Lake further mentioned, we are still a board member and nothing has changed since the letter of June 17th, and the resolution we sent you.
Mr. Figura said, he seen the letter, and Green Lake had to give a six month notice in advance, if they were going to withdrawal, so they covered that base by sending that letter, is that correct?
Green Lake answered, we sent that letter under the agreement to get to the table, that was the concept and I sent a cover letter stating we’ve got some issues and we have been working on this since 2010. There is nothing magical about dissolving, restructuring, reorganizing, changing the budget, so this is not new news.
It was mentioned, that we understand its not new news, but we need answers before we can move forward and if we don’t know what is wrong, we can’t fix it.
Green Lake replied- We (Green Lake Twp) need to look at what this organization is going to like if we stay in or stay out. The question was posed to Green Lake, what information do you need? It was further mentioned, perhaps we need to see what the budget look like with Green Lake in, because currently we have the milage rate with both Green Lake and Long Lake out. Green Lake concurred.
Green Lake handed out a two (2) sheet document (2015 taxable value % with population and run averages at .72 & one sheet at 0.001). He related that he handed this out at his Board meeting a couple of days ago (Monday). It shows the new percentages if Green Lake stays in, they are relatively the same numbers that Dave has that show us in. Green Lake will be at a 34.26% increase. Green Lake mentioned there are things we need to look at. If we stay in, what is our cost? How much is it going to cost us to buy out? Yesterday (Sept. 10th Special Meeting) what he heard was there was a discrepancy on what you want to pay for administration. What is the goal? Where do you want to be? What do you want for the administration? At some point the Board is going to offer Long Lake Township, its equipment at a certain price and we are going to want to know the cost. The three things Green Lake needs are: 1) Stay in -What’s the Cost for Green Lake to stay in? 2) Dissolution which is a reorganization to move into a process to make sure everybody is covered. 3) Buy out. These are some of the things I can take back to my Board.
It was mentioned that we should have the appraisal information by this coming week. It was also mentioned that we need to determine the value after the appraisal and we also have the Chief’s contract to discuss possibly extending the Chief’s contract beyond the Nov 1st deadline.
Mr. Figura mentioned that he thought the discussion that was to take place today was to discuss the figures that the Accountant configured from yesterday’s September 16th, Special Meeting. Which would be on the six remaining numbers of both Green Lake and Long Lake withdrawing and the question was, do those 6 think that they can get by with the revenues that were going to be generated and where you would have to make cuts. The most obvious was do you need a full time Chief/CEO, because that is your biggest expenditure. But now he is hearing that Green Lake is not ready to commit to withdrawal, and where this discussion is going with Green Lake is staying in. The question was posed to the Board. Do we know what it will cost without Long Lake and keep Green Lake?
Discussion took place regarding preparing a budget on six townships paying, raising the milage rate and to take apart objectively what value we get from the administration, which is our biggest cost.
It was mentioned to Mr. Figura, a short synopsis of what was requested of the Chief at last night’s Special Meeting. The Board requested of the Chief, to take apart his statutory duties of what it takes to maintain the Fire Department legally to keep us in order and for him not to respond to calls 24/7 and what it would his cost be to do that, so we could have a feasible number to work with. Because last night there was a true appreciation for the individuals that form our administration from the boots on the ground.
Mr. Figura posed the question, as of right now the number that is in the Chief’s line is $ 84,360.00. Is that correct? There was short discussion. If Green Lake may not withdrawal and we have the numbers of what the revenues are and reduced costs were, would you agree that this is something that just the six (6) remaining members could to work out?
It was suggested that the Board could ask the administrative staff to make a small concession in wage reduction in the amount of 5%. Where would it bring us on this budget as a total package? Discussion took place. The question was posed, if the admin costs don’t come down enough to get out of red, are you going to say to the public that the fire department just cost more to run. Discussion took place regarding the figures on the budget that they do not add up, like the physicals. Further discussion took place regarding how we have no budget history.
Mr. Figura recapped, you have the numbers and the purpose is to decide primarily to discuss if those remaining six (6) believe that Rural can get by as a fire department under the existing agreement with two less members and do you want to proceed on that basis, knowing that there is a lot of discussion and what the cuts and changes will be.
It was mentioned that we know we can get by for a year on with this budget. It was further mentioned that last year we burned up $300,000 in a pretty healthy budget with Long Lake in. We were $62,936 in the negative, so we are burning capital assets and now you are moving into the unknown. It was further mentioned that we should have been looking at a milage increase this year. Authority milage was discussed.
Mr. Figura posed the question to Paradise what he needed. Paradise mentioned that we need to know what the appraisal of equipment is and what the board would accept for a purchase price and how the formula would be done, whether this is a one shot deal or over time.
Green Lake mentioned that he feels the board is going to come up with an offer for Long Lake and the same should be offered to Green Lake. Short discussion took place.
Mr. Figura mentioned -to get back to our original focus and frankly there is a lot of discussion among you about budget and he does not need to be here for that discussion. What do we do with respect to Long Lake and Green Lake wanting to withdrawal. We saw the Long Lake side of that, because Long Lake is going to withdraw and it’s down to Green Lake. And I think it sounds like the other six are prepared to go ahead and work with what they have without Green Lake. Green Lake needs to decide if they are staying or leaving.
Discussion took place on what information is needed. The Accountant was requested to prepare a budget to run the expenses and revenues and added considerations. It was suggested that we need to have another meeting to discuss the budget and Chief’s contract and the equipment appraisals. The Chief will get them the analysis. They will be going back to their perspective boards and let them know where they are at in this process.
Mr. Figura posed the question to Green Lake, what does Green Lake need to make a decision. The value of the equipment they have to pay for, the stay in cost. Green Lake’s opinion was that the equipment appraisals won’t give him the information that he needs. Green Lake’s next year’s expense and the stay in cost. He feels that at some time, someone will make a motion to offer Long Lake price for equipment and some term. Green Lake would like to know that number.
It was mentioned that if Green Lake gets the equipment for 10 cents on a dollar, it makes his ability to start a fire department that much easier. Its just common business savvy.
Mr. Figura recapped- for purpose of this process. It sounds like you have the list of information that is needed. And you are looking at a meeting dates. Wouldn’t that it be a good idea to have another board meeting (not mediation) to discuss these budget issues, because until you resolve those budget issues you’re not going to know what Green Lake wants to do.
Discussion took place regarding what meetings are needed.
Mr. Figura recapped – So you will try to set a meeting with the Chief, after the board receives the Chiefs analysis, then you will be talking to your boards, then after some point you will be meeting to discuss these budgets, and be able to give Green Lake the information he needs so his Board can decide whether they are in or out.
It was mentioned that one realization is, that we ran a deficit budget with Long Lake here, we should have raised revenues at that point. We are not being honest with our constituents, on what this is costing. We are telling them what its costing, when it’s really not the correct number, it costing more.
- Public Comment
- No public comment made.
Upon a motion made by Springfield and duly seconded by Fife Lake, the Board adjourned at 2:20 p.m.
Chairman-Timothy Trudell Secretary- Adrienne C. Haas
No Additional Mediation Meeting was scheduled at this time.