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Menahga reviews new township fire contract

The Menahga fire committee reviewed a new contract with township representatives last week and presented a few changes.

The city council will sign the final agreement with Huntersville, Shell River and Blueberry townships in April.

According to the 2010/2011 contract, the city will be responsible for 51 percent of the budget. The townships will assume the rest on a tax capacity basis.

Committee members who met Thursday were Mayor Tom Larson, councilwoman Kim Rasmussen, fire chief Dave Kicker and city administrator Teri Osterman.

Osterman said the Menahga firemen agreed to take ownership of 51 percent of the department's $82,752 budget, which is a change from last year's contract.

The 2008/2009 agreement allowed the city to take responsibility for 33 percent of the budget, which is based on th­e city's tax capacity.

That left 38 percent for Blueberry Township, 10.9 percent for Huntersville and 17 percent for Shell River.

Osterman said by taking 51 percent of the budget, the remaining 49 percent is spread out among the townships based on tax capacity.

"It's always a concrete number," she said. "Something we felt was the fairest."

Under the new contract, each year, Blueberry Township will be responsible for around $24,000, Shell River will pay about $10,000 and Huntersville will pay approximately $6,500.

The new contract also requires a late fee if the townships don't make their payments on time.

Annual payments must be made to the city by April 1 each year of the contract, otherwise a 10 percent penalty fee per month would be charged.

The new contract doesn't require payments to the fire equipment fund, in which confusion over the amount of what should've been deposited there resulted in an Office of the State Auditor investigation last year.

The townships will no longer be obligated to make periodic payments to the fire equipment fund because all fire truck payments were paid off last year. The city will also purchase fire equipments as needed throughout the contract period.

"Tax capacity seemed to be the easiest, simplest, cut and dry," Larson said.