Proposed NSFD Fee Schedule Rankles Fox Point Trustees
A village trustee says Fox Point is contributing more than it should to the shared fire department, and the board declined to approved the new proposed fee schedule, asking instead for re-examination and a sunset clause.
Editor's Note: This article has been updated to reflect a correction in the numbers for Fox Point's 2012 contributions.
While four of the seven communities served by the North Shore Fire Department have adopted freezing the fee contributions, Fox Point Village Board members are looking for relief and a three-year sunset clause on the new schedule.
"Compared to the original formula, it seems Fox Point is giving up more than the other communities are," trustee F.R. Dengel said Tuesday. "It seems like we're being asked to pay for more than our fair share."
Fox Point paid 10.38 percent ($1.2 million) of NSFD's costs in 2012; the proposed formula has the village paying 10.31 percent. Village President Michael West said the Village Board will send a letter to the NSFD Board asking for a review of the percentages and the three-year limit on a new fee arrangement.
NSFD is a shared service among seven communities: Bayside, Brown Deer, Fox Point, Glendale, River Hills, Shorewood and Whitefish Bay. But the fire department doesn't have any taxing or borrowing authority, so each of the villages it serves contributes a percentage of funds for the fire department's operating and capital budgets. That percentage is based on three main components:
- Population of each municipality;
- Equalized Valuation based on improvements, excluding land, which is determined by the Wisconsin Department of Revenue for the previous year;
- Usage of the fire department for emergency incidents, averaged over three years.
After what West called "stormy" conditions in 2005 and 2006, the fee formula was frozen to give time for the municipalities to negotiate and revise it. However, that freeze ended this year and and now NSFD is proposing a permanent fee schedule with each municipality contributing the following percentages indefinitely:
"It doesn't take into account that things change over time," trustee Eric Fonstad said.
"The central message is we looked, we saw those numbers and we saw what we think might be trends," West said. "We're requesting relief because the 10.31 is not the order of the magnitude of relief indicated by the operation formula."
NSFD Chief Robert Whitaker said it's up to the Fire Department board now.
"I'll coordinate communicating President West's letter to NSFD Board President Sam Dickman and get direction as to what further direction the Board of Directors want to take based off the Village's communication," Whitaker said. "The Board will decide the next step in this process."