Special ADR Meeting July 20, 2015

GTRFD Logo Good

GRAND TRAVERSE RURAL FIRE BOARD MEETING MINUTES

4123 Vance Road

Traverse City, MI 49685

Phone: (231) 943-9721 •Website: www.gtfire.org • Email: info@gtfire.org

 

July 20, 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.

  1. Roll Call –Fife Lake-Present, Grant-Present, Green Lake-Present, Long Lake-Present, Paradise –Present, Springfield-Present, Union-Present, Whitewater-Present

Guest- (3)

 

  1. Item of Discussion
  2. Richard Figura leading Alternate Dispute Resolution Mediation Meeting.

 

Mr. Figura discussed the process and guidelines associated with the mediation. Mr. Figura presented the statistical formula that surrounds the intergovernmental agreement (1/3 taxable value, 1/3 number of runs & 1/3 population), and state equalized value (SEV) data for each township and their contributions to the budget.

Mr. Figura led with a question and respectfully requested all members to reply. Question- Why they wish to withdrawal and what would have to happen for you to stay involved to keep Rural together?

 

Long Lake discussed the financial aspects surrounding her Township. Long Lake is paying 38% of the budget which is a financial burden now and she has concerns for the future. They borrowed from fund balance last year (2014) and this year again. She poses the question, what would be the benefit if we stay as a whole body and what would be the benefit, if we break off individually. In addition, she has had some disagreements with Chief Weber in regards to some of the decisions he has made regarding their station. But, Chief Weber is not the main reason why they had submitted the letter of intent.

Green Lake discussed the reason behind their letter of intent. They feel that they will assume this financial burden as they are the next largest contributor based off of the current agreement. Green Lake has always been a proponent of Rural to keep it alive. But Green Lake is looking at the future of where they are going to be 5-15 years from now and how they are going to get there. Manpower is another topic that is coming to light. Green Lake poses the question – what is it that we need? And what are our goals? We all might have different needs. Green Lake’s hope, is to keep Long Lake in and keep Rural going.

 

Mr. Figura posed questions to have a better understand of how each station operates with their ambulance response, and station equipment and funding.

Discussion had taken place on how every township fire department operates with ambulance response, funding, age/type/leasing of equipment along with needs and wants of each township. The question was posed – What does Rural do for us? For the expense of the administration.

 

Mr. Figura posed the question as to where each township will look to for service and will they be able to provide the same level of service and the cost associated with that.

 

Discussion took place- Fife Lake will keep their station, they work well with neighboring townships. Fife Lake has a member that believes they can run the fire department on what they take in from ambulance to include Kalkasa. Springfield has several options of stations near them, they have no industry and there is many volunteers at night, not many during day. Fife Lake has the best response during day. Springfield assumes the cost will go up. Paradise did a quick preliminary cost comparison to operate on their own years ago and the cost was over a half a million dollars just to operate.

 

It was mentioned that perhaps we should look at what the ground issues/disagreements are. Discussed was the lack of communications from the Chief to the Township Supervisors. There was discussion on whether the Chief should consult the Township Supervisors before a decision is to be made when personnel issues are involved. A comment was made that it was requested previously and ignored. Further discussion took place considering to set level/parameters of what the Chief is able to do in regards to budget and HR.

 

Mr. Figura posed a question- How do you feel this should be remedied?

 

Whitewater suggested to cut the budget by a third, hire a CEO not a Fire Chief acting like a CEO and to stop medical runs, until the Board figures out how to handle them. Find out from Northflight the cost involved in running medical calls. A check and balance is needed between the operation and the business side. He furthermore would like to look more at monthly expenses and monitor what is spent. Transparency, he further mentioned, that his clerk has given up on begging for minutes from this Board. He continues to state, it has been this Boards failure in that agenda items are rarely accompanied with supporting documentation needed to reach a good decision.

 

Discussion took place regarding cutting the budget by a third (Rural Light). Whitewater feels he can cut the budget by one third and have a part time Chief, part time Inspector and Administrative Assistant and he added $20,000 for people who have their boots on the ground and set aside 10% for equipment replacement, which he concedes is not much ($60,000 per yr), probably need more and with the Rural Light budget we can still maintain all our commitments at the level today.

 

The question was posed to Long Lake-if we change the three way split to help Long Lake reduce their contribution? It was interjected that as soon as we change the agreement, it opens up problems for other things and consider that Long Lake does not have an ambulance, so it runs a squad to all medical calls which creates a fire call, so that might be something that is able to be changed. Mr. Figura spoke about the number of runs and the amount of runs that were medical. There was an inquiry, if it would be fair if the highest paying township had a higher percentage of the vote or to add additional members on the Board. It was mentioned that by do so, it will have two townships that run this Board. It was suggested that perhaps Long Lakes squad runs, can be removed and/or not considered in this formula to help reduce Long Lakes contributions.

 

Mr. Figura states that this is one thing that can be fixed without amending the agreement, because our intergovernmental agreement does not define what constitutes a run.   Long Lake inquired if that will make a big enough change.

 

Mr. Figura mentioned that if you took runs out of the agreement, that would lower Long Lakes contribution, but you will still have to find the money to pay for that same medical service. And do you know what that cost would be and would it still amount to more than what you are paying now.

 

Discussion took place on the cost of medical services and what the people demand.

 

Mr. Figura brought up that there is additional information that is needed. We do not know the cost of the medical run component for Long Lake Township and what it would cost be (number component) for Long Lake to drop out and what it would cost to provide the same service, and if Long Lake did drop out, how much would you pay for fire service and how much more would you pay for ambulance service.

 

Springfield inquired if Rural is billing for “rescue” calls from cost recovery. Discussion on cost recovery.

 

A question was posed to Long Lake.If the administration was cut, and the runs were figured medically vs fire, how would that set with your Board? Long Lake stated that they can hire their own Fire Chief. It was mentioned that we shouldn’t discount what we have here, we have good equipment, we are financially healthy we can restructure. Act 57 sounds great, but we cannot get the support from the Township boards let alone the public. Is there another way to go that would be sensible to think about? How do we reorganize this?

 

Mr. Figura posed a question to Long Lake- Is your Board at a point or willing to continue as a member with Rural for some kind of reduction in your contributions coupled with a plan that is workable for everyone of where are we are we going to be in five years- looking to the future. Long Lake stated that we can’t stay at this same formula and buy all this equipment and that just means another big bill for Long Lake.

 

Mr. Figura did some rough calculations and broke down one-third of the runs for Long Lake were medical runs and removed them based on the 2014 budget. Long Lake paid $125,484.00 in contributions for runs and by removing one-third, it reduces to $84,000 or reduced it by $41,000.00. He spread it among all the other units, it would represent an increase of 8-10% in what the other units would have to pay. An example was given. A question was posed to Long Lake, inquiring if $41,000 would be a good reduction for her Board to consider looking into? Or where could this lead? Long Lake mentioned that these figures were based on 2014 and she is looking into 2016, it was difficult to say whether her Board would feel if that was enough. Whitewater mentioned that he felt it was not that big of a number. Long Lake agreed, when you look at the $325,000.

 

Discussion took place regarding whether the administration should be at one-third of the budget.

 

Mr. Figura inquired if there was any kind of consensus and of what extent to redefine runs so that Long Lake would receive some kind of reduction and the rest of you would receive some kind of increase. Is there a consensus? A one-step kind of solution. Green Lake agreed. Paradise mentioned that their contribution would be in the area of $10,000 which should go past his Board.

 

Mr. Figura mentioned that he understands that this will need to go before their perspective Board, but inquired, is there a consensus to put together a proposal to bring to their Board? Long Lake would want to make certain that the proper figures in place. Mr. Figura agreed.

 

Information was requested information from the Accountant. They are looking for the 8 to10 % increase per township. Mr. Figura interjected, you may want to do some different options- a 25% change in Long Lakes runs a 1/3 change or a 40% change. The Accountant will need to use the “actual” numbers of medical versus fire runs average over the last three years (2012, 2013, 2014), not current year because we don’t have complete figures and what the increase would be for each individual township.

 

Mr. Figura reviewed -They have looked into three options –Keep Rural in place look at budget, dissolve, or Act 57. Act 57 although sounded good, from his understanding from the group there was no internal support, so it was not brought out to the public. The Rural Light budget was discussed. Discussion took place of what Rural does for each Township.

 

Mr. Figura mentioned according to the intergovernmental agreement, it is up to the Board to determine the type of equipment, the amount of firefighters, and the type of equipment to be provided to each battalion. You can delegate that to the Chief, if you wanted. You have the authority to charge a fee for emergency services to non-member entities. What do you still need to look at? Numbers? And it comes down to cost.

 

A discussion took place regarding the idea of forming into three regions with operations. Further discussion took place regarding an idea of a possible sub-agreement/mutual aid agreement to tie in with neighboring townships locally to cover inspections, training, certain types of calls, etc. and Rural would handle the overall, office work, buying of equipment, and budget.

 

Mr. Figura clarified the discussion as a so called, reorganization of rural in effect of three regions, each would have its own specialty and responsibility (continuing education training, inspections, physicals, small asset replacements (boots, axes, pagers, OSHA). Big Rural would take care of buying big capital assets, insurance, and billing. An example of a Regions could be, Region One (Long Lake, Green Lake, Grant) – Region Two (WW & Union), – Region Three (Fife Lake, Springfield, Paradise Union). There was further discussion about other agreements that will need to be made with other neighboring agencies outside of Rural.

 

Mr. Figura encouraged everyone around the table to express what they want from Rural. All shared their views. Mr. Figura summed up the conversation, stating that he is hearing a consensus to proceed to explore a reorganization. He poses the questions, who will do the work, a committee? The whole Board? It was suggested that that the whole Board would take care of this.

 

 

Mr. Figura mentioned that the beauty in this, is Long Lake can go back to her Board and share that there was empathy for their (Long Lake’s) position and an opportunity to reduce their contributions and more importantly there is a willingness to look toward reorganizing in a fashion to give them more control of what happens in your local area. Long Lake stated she will take the run information to her Board and the information collected will be interesting to know, but is there any reason why we (Long Lake, Green Lake, Grant) get together and talk about reorganizing (pods) and then later bring it to the Board level for further discussion. Short discussion took place regarding those (pods) to meet.

 

Whitewater made a comment that we might as well make a motion to dissolve today and come back and meet as our three pods. The Chairman advises that he feels there is structure that is needed to be in place before a motion like that should be made. The Chairman welcomed Whitewater to put the motion out there if he wanted. Union stated he needed more information and he would not have any part of a motion to dissolve this organization today. Fife Lake stated she would like to meet with the pods first and she is not ready to make that vote at this point. Long Lake stated that she would like us work together and work this out first before a motion of dissolve is made.

 

Discussion took place and decided to meet again with Facilitator in the last week in August.

  • Break Down to Caucuses
  1. Reserved
  2. Public Comment
  3. No public comments made.
  4. Adjournment

Upon a motion made by Fife Lake and duly seconded by Long Lake, the Board adjourned at 3:51 p.m.

 

 

 

 

tim               adrienne

Chairman-Timothy Trudell                       Secretary- Adrienne C. Haas

Next ADR Mediation Meeting-Session B

August 26, 2015