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September 2014

22

Pewaukee may be interested in Lake Country Fire and Rescue consolidation

LCFR said service only feasible if Hartland, Delafield decide to merge

The Village of Pewaukee is "bothered" by the costs associated with its fire and emergency medical services through the City of Pewaukee, according to President Tom Calder. Officials have decided to start looking elsewhere, beginning with nearby fire consolidation talks already under way.

"I look at the rate history - in 2004, we paid $1,740 per call. Our new rate is $5,796 a call. You look at the challenges we have with our budget, and you look at this total amount … that is a significant part of our budget," Calder said.

More specifically, a fire call will be $5,796, and an EMS call will be $884 for 2013. Last year, they call rate was $5,154 per fire call and $827 per EMS call.

The Village of Pewaukee currently contracts for those services with the City of Pewaukee. While the board made it clear that there are no complaints over the quality of services, trustees are concerned by the costs.

In total net expenses, for 2012, the village is paying $808,135.45, after ambulance billing revenue is figured. It paid $788,566.14 in 2011 and $705,993.95 in 2010.

"I think we need to take a serious look at possibly some options or thinking outside of the box, to see what we might be able to do and look at what could help save this community," Calder said.

Calder and some village trustees have indicated they would like to explore the possibility of joining Lake Country Fire and Rescue (LCFR) which serves the City of Delafield and the villages of Nashotah and Chenequa.

Nashotah Village President Rich Lartz said he and Calder have had brief and informal private discussions about the Village of Pewaukee's possible interest in being served by LCFR.

Lartz and Delafield Mayor Ed McAleer said LCFR officials could not consider the Village of Pewaukee joining the consolidated department until Pewaukee village officials submit a formal request to LCFR. No such request has been submitted, according to Lartz and McAleer.

Others interested in LCFR

A 15-member consolidation committee is considering the possibility of expanding LCFR's service area to include the Village of Hartland, the Town of Delafield and the City of Oconomowoc.

Lartz said the outcome of those discussions could determine the feasibility of LCFR serving the Village of Pewaukee.

Lartz said if Hartland and the Town of Delafield decide not to consolidate with LCFR, it would be impractical for the department to serve the Village of Pewaukee because LCFR's service area and the village boundaries are geographically too far apart, according to Lartz.

All of the communities currently served by LCFR had firefighters, equipment and fire stations to contribute to the consolidated department. The Village of Pewaukee does not have its own independent fire department.

Meanwhile, McAleer and Lartz said LCFR plans to continue discussions with the City of Oconomowoc, the Village of Hartland and the Town of Delafield about the feasibility of those three communities' fire departments being consolidated with LCFR.

Prompting negotiation?

On the other hand, the Village of Pewaukee could be flexing some muscle, too. Several board members pointed out that even inquiring about different emergency services might prompt the City of Pewaukee to renegotiate the fire-EMS contract at lower costs.

"Either way, we come up more viable, more cost-efficient options for the same quality, or, another option would be, the fact that we're looking, all of a sudden Pewaukee wakes up and says 'Now, wait a minute. We don't want to lose this community,' " Trustee Joe Zompa said.

"Oh, their costs would go right through the ceiling if we bail," Trustee Dean Flowers added.

Regardless, it would be difficult for the village to join if the Village of Hartland or the Town of Delafield were to back out, according to Calder.

"We talked about this 15 years ago. What this county needs is a regional fire department. Take the counties, split them into four equal parts. One chief, one county executive," Trustee Paul Evert said.

"You just said the magic word," Zompa said. "One chief."

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