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Akeley Council scrutinizes fire department payments

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The numbers don't add up.

The Akeley Council, convening in a special meeting Monday, learned the amount being charged for coverage by the Eastern Hubbard County Fire District does not correspond with agreed upon formulas.

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Council member Brian Hitchcock raised the question, conducting research on the matter.

In 1991, an amendment agreement was reached between the city and EHCFD on "operating expenses."

Sixty percent of the budget was to be assessed according to the population of each of the four units - Akeley city and Akeley,

Badoura and White Oak townships. The remaining 40 percent was to be assessed equally among the four townships.

This was used in calculating the amount until 1998. Hitchcock contends current amounts do not correspond with the amendment; population figures are no longer used in calculating costs for each entity.

The city has paid $20,100 for coverage for the past three years. But according to formulas, based on the 2000 and 2010 census, the city should have paid $18,142, based on 412 residents in the city, and $16,906, with 432 residents in 2010, based on the 60-40 amendment.

Meanwhile, Akeley Township, where the population grew from 481, to 551, paid $17,976 in 2010.

Based on the census figures, Hitchcock suggests Akeley Township should have paid $20,106 and $19,794, respectively.

This is based on a $64,175 total amount requested by the EHCFD.

White Oak Township's amount paid in 2010 was $16,652; based on census figures that should have been $17,949. Badoura's amount, $9,446, would remain relatively unchanged.

Percentages based on the 2010 census are Akeley city, 27.24 percent; Akeley Township, 34.74 percent; Badoura, 8.07 percent and White Oak, 29.95 percent.

Another formula calls for $5 for each member of the population for each entity with unmet expenses divided equally.

The city of Akeley would be responsible for $16,412, Akeley Township, $16,757, $16,147 for White Oak Township and Badoura's would increase more than $5,000, to $14,857.

Hitchcock and other council members expressed support for this. He's advocating using property values as a basis for setting the amounts, however.

Hitchcock also questioned the amount of salaries paid to the EHCFD chief, assistant and secretary, which are above other area department amounts.

Firefighter compensation for fire calls, training and extra hours is also more than other departments'.

The council agreed to ask for the formula that was used to reach the calculations. The contract between the entities states disputes may be resolved through arbitration.

The arbitration board is to consist of an EHCFD representative and one from the city, who would select a third party.

In addition to the $20,100, the city is asked for $4,689 for the pumper payment and to make a $1,500 donation for First Response.

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Jean Ruzicka
(218) 732-3364
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