Although many members of the Fox Point Village Board members publically cited concerns with the "fairness" of the North Shore Fire Department's funding formula, the resolution was approved Tuesday with a three-year sunset period.
"I wouldn't characterize these as necessarily fair, but they're all we've got," Village President Michael West said. "I've never said that 10.31 represents what I will characterize as 'our fair share.' I believe that our fair share needs to be set an active, seven-way negotiation on a new formula."
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 previously 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 NSFD proposed a permanent fee schedule. However, Fox Point voiced numerous concerns with this funding formula at the July board meeting and they formally requested a three-year sunset clause, eliminating the permanency of this funding formula.
NSFD Chief Robert Whitaker gave a brief description at the meeting on how the Fire Department Board determined the current funding formula. He said it's based on a weighted system that takes into account the type of property the fire department is providing protection for.
"A fire on the 13th floor in a high-rise in Shorewood, which is considered residential property, that's much different than having a bedroom fire in a one-story home," Whitaker said. "In my personal opinion, I don't think that's valid. But that's what's on the table," Whitaker said.
Here's a breakdown of what each municipality will be contributing:
The board approved the resolution 5-1, with the lone nay vote from trustee F.R. Dengel.
"It hasn't happened in the five years, why would it happen in the next three years?" Dengel said. "I think we'll be in the same place three years from now. Nothing gets done without a deadline."
Fox Point is the first of the seven North shore communities to approve this resolution with the new three-year sunset clause. The same resolution will go before each of the other six communities in the coming weeks.
"I'm going to work night and day to figure out a way that the seven communities can come together just like they did when the department was founded," he said.