Fire contract concerns are discussed by council
City will negotiate price of land for new city well east of town

This article submitted by Linda Stelling on 1/19/00.

Paynesville Fire Department Chief Jim Freilinger informed the Paynesville City Council at its Wednesday night meeting that the townships were happy with their fire call service.

However, Freilinger said they are unhappy about the fire contract, but he was unsure of the issues.

Freilinger said the contracts are based on usage, the number of fire calls they receive in each township. The rates are figured on a 10-year average. "The townships are billed at the beginning of each year. At the end of the year, if a township doesn't have a lot of calls, we give them a refund," Freilinger said.

The townships, fire department officials, and city representatives recently met to discuss new fire contracts. The fire department meets with the contracting entities twice a year: to discuss the budget and make amendments to the contract.

The idea of forming a fire board or district was brought up and discussed at the contract meeting. Each township would have a voting member, as would the city and fire department. Freilinger said a fire board would also have the power to levy for funds to build a new fire hall or purchase new vehicles.

Freilinger said the initial cost is the highest when they take the trucks out of the fire hall. After that it doesn't make any difference if they drive one mile or ten miles. "With the majority of our calls, we are usually in service for only one hour," he added.

The subject of charging for rescue calls was also discussed at the contract meeting. Freilinger said the fire department usually charges a fee if they have to take tools off the fire trucks to extricate someone from a vehicle. If they are assisting the ambulance crew and don't use any tools, then there is no charge.

The fire department is routinely dispatched to car accidents to help with traffic control. Councilman Dave Peschong, a county deputy, said he appreciates their assistance at the accident scenes. "The patrol would be lost without their help," Peschong added.

Freilinger said the Richmond Fire Department charges for rescue calls. "We have heard people say that since they pay taxes the fire department is a service they pay for through their taxes and they shouldn't be charged extra," he said.

The Paynesville Fire Department has contracts with three cities: Regal, Roscoe, and Paynesville; and seven townships: Paynesville, Zion, Roseville, Union Grove, Eden Lake, Irving, and Munson. All the townships recently approved the new 10-year contract.

New well site
The council approved negotiating to purchase 15 acres near the present wells south of Highway 23 on the eastern edge of Paynesville. The land would be used for wellhead protection, ensuring the area would not be developed or that development would not put the wells in jeopardy. The city paid $2,500 in 1993 when the land was purchased for the two existing wells.

"Negotiations have broken down with landowners for a new well south of the present site. They are asking $15,000 for 1.2 acres. The new well would be in the same aquifer as two of the current wells. The price tag would be about $5,000 per acre," Pete Carlson, city engineer, said.

The council gave Carlson permission to do serious negotiating for the 15 acres for the wellhead protection area plus additional acreage for the new well site.

• Also announced were the committee appointments for 2000. The list can be found by clicking here: 2000 Committee Appointments

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