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Thursday

April 2014

24

Fire consolidation talks resume

Pewaukee, Oconomowoc included in talks

After a nearly five-month hiatus, the Lake Country Fire and Rescue Consolidation Committee will resume discussions on Thursday, Feb. 21, about the possible expansion of the regional fire department to include one to four new communities.

The department serves the villages of Nashotah and Chenequa and the City of Delafield. Last August, the committee began exploring the possibility of adding the Town of Delafield and Village of Hartland fire departments.

The talks will be expanded later this week to include the City of Oconomowoc and the Village of Pewaukee.

The talks were put on pause in September when the committee agreed that initial cost estimates for the Village of Hartland and Town of Delafield to join the department were too high.

Shortly after the Sept. 27 meeting, the City of Oconomowoc announced it might be interested in joining LCFR.

LCFR staff had nearly completed cost estimates to add Oconomowoc, along with Town of Delafield and Village of Hartland, into the department when the Village of Pewaukee on Jan. 3 announced it, too, might be interested in joining LCFR.

Oconomowoc and the Village of Pewaukee have since appointed three representatives to the committee, which has now grown to 21 members. There are three members of each community on the committee.

The Pewaukee representatives, Village President Tom Calder and Trustees Pat Nauth and Paul Evert, will not able to attend the meeting because of a last-minute scheduling conflict.

The regularly scheduled Tuesday night Village Board meeting was shifted to Thursday night because the Village Board meeting room will used as a polling place in the Feb. 19 primary election. When village officials made the scheduling change they did not know consolidation committee was planning to meet that night.

"We would have prefered the Village of Pewaukee be there, but we understand, and there is nothing we can do about it. We are not going to reschedule our meeting, but we will continue to consider the Village of Pewaukee as part of the mix and will discuss it with them at a later date," said Consolidation Committee Chairman Richard Lartz.

When the discussions resume Thursday night at the Delafield Common Council chambers, there are likely to be two key issues, according to Lartz, Nashotah Village President, and Delafield Mayor Ed McAleer, costs and paramedic services.

Lartz said the committee will be briefed on how the staff calculated the estimated share of the cost each community would have pay if the department was expanded.

Lartz said the individual communities would receive those cost estimates in advance of the Thursday meeting. He anticipates the community representatives will have reactions to the cost estimates and questions about how they were calculated.

McAleer said he wants to discuss with representatives from Hartland and Town of Delafield whether their communities are willing to pay for paramedic-level emergency medical services.

Officials in both communities have, in the past, been reluctant to add paramedic services to their communities because they questioned whether the benefits of the service matched the costs to initiate and maintain the higher level of emergency medical service.

The elected leaders of the City of Delafield and villages of Nashotah and Chenequa have repeatedly said LCFR will not give up paramedic services, and any new member of the department will be expected to share in the cost of the paramedic operations.

McAleer said if a community does not want paramedic services, they probably should not consider joining LCFR.

The Village of Pewaukee currently receives paramedic and firefighting services from the City of Pewaukee, at an annual cost of about $800,000.

Whether the Village of Pewaukee is likely to be incorporated into LCFR will not only depend upon how much it consolidation costs the village but also whether Hartland or the Town of Delafield joins LCFR.

Either Hartland or the Town of Delafield must be included in LCFR in order for the regional department to be in a geographic position to serve the Village of Pewaukee, according to McAleer and Lartz.

"Everyone at the table except Pewaukee has some equity to contribute in terms of equipment, fire stations and personnel. Pewaukee does not have equipment, fire stations or personnel to put on the table, so their equity may have to be cash," Lartz noted.

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