Windham – The WVFD Joint Fire Board held their regularly scheduled meeting on March 13, 2014 with all board members in attendance. The first items of business were to approve the minutes, the bank reconciliation and the expenditures.
In the chief’s report, Fire Chief Mike Iwanyckyj said the department has applied for three grants, a FEMA Grant, State Fire Marshal’s Grant and an EMS Grant. He expects to hear about one of them in April, one in August and the last one he was unsure when they would hear about it. He also reported that engines 2815 and 2818 have been serviced and the parts for the rescue squad have been ordered. The rescue squad will be fixed as soon as the parts come in. The chief is also working with Camp Ravenna on a new contract for fire and EMS service. The chief expects the contract to be similar to last year’s and hopes to have it ready to present at the April meeting. Lastly, he reported that the department has received 138 calls as of Thursday, March 13, 2014.
In old business, the fire board discussed options for the new levy cycle. The current levy is 4 mills and will expire at the end of this year. There was a discussion on whether to increase the millage, leave it the same, and make it a replacement levy or a renewal levy. Dann Timmons explained that prior to the formation of the joint fire district the village and the township each had a 1 mill operating levy and a 1 mill large equipment levy (total of two mills) to operate the fire department. During that time, they barely made their budget. When they formed the joint district, they went to 4 mills to cover the costs of operating, which at the time were based on the current cost of equipment and the village providing their dispatching for 10 years. Last year, the village ceased their dispatching services, causing the fire district to outsource the service at approximately $22,000 per year. The cost of the dispatching is based on calls received.
Another factor the board needed to consider when determining the millage was large equipment purchases, like fire engines and rescue squads. The district has two ambulances and in the past they had purchased a new one every five years, so they never had an ambulance on the road that was older than 10 years. In the past, they purchased one ambulance every five years at the start of a levy cycle to ensure they had enough money to pay one off. They traditionally paid it off within the length of a levy cycle. The district also needs to consider replacing one of the fire engines. After a long discussion on when to replace equipment, levy millage and type of levy to place on the November ballot, the board voted to place 4 mills on the ballot this fall. They decided to wait and see how their grant applications fare before making a decision on a plan for large equipment purchases.
In other fire board news, the board also discussed moving the siren and air horn from the police station to the fire station as they anticipate the police station to be demolished when the village moves to its new facility later in the year. Iwanyckyj said the firemen can do most of the labor except the electrical work, which will keep the project costs down. No decision was made on when they will move it.
A resident asked what the district was going to do about the alleged breach of contract by the village. Some residents believe the village breached the original agreement with the township, when they discontinued the dispatching services. Timmons said the contract has been sent to an attorney for review before a decision will be made on whether to pursue any legal action.
There being no further business to discuss, the meeting was adjourned. The fire board meets on the second Thursday of each month at the fire station at 7pm. All meetings are open to the public.