River Hills officials say parameters should be established before hiring facilitator
Outside consultant being brought in to review NSFD's funding formula
River Hills - As work gets under way on efforts to adopt a long-term funding formula for the North Shore Fire Department, one participating municipality is expressing concern about the early stages of the process.
Members of the board overseeing NSFD in December voted, 6-1, in favor of bringing in an independent, third-party facilitator to assist in creating a funding formula in 2016 and beyond. The board last year voted in favor of a three-year formula that began Jan. 1 and sunsets Dec. 31, 2015.
River Hills Village President Robert Brunner was the sole dissenter in the board's decision to seek a facilitator, which is expected to cost about $2,000.
At the municipality's regular Village Board meeting last week, Brunner presented his elected colleagues with a proposed resolution that puts the community on record as opposing the proposed steps.
The River Hills board voted in favor of Brunner's resolution as it was presented. The document cites the importance of shared services and maintaining a joint department to handle fire and emergency medical services calls, but states more discussion is warranted before outside services are sought.
"I want to make it a point of determining what specifically the facilitator should be looking at," Brunner said.
While Brunner said he favored outside expertise, he felt the process was being expedited without thoroughly hashing over the issue.
"I'm asking that the selection of the facilitator be delayed until the member communities determine the scope of the services," Brunner said.
Since its inception 18 years ago, the funding formula between each of the seven member communities has been determined through a variety of criteria, including usage of the department's services, population and equalized valuation.
On several occasions, the specific percentage each municipality pays into NSFD has been tweaked. Over the years, River Hills officials have expressed several concerns, including the impact the formula has on the municipality's budget.
Trustee R. David Fritz said he favored approving the resolution.
"We're the smallest stepchild in this," Fritz said. "I think we should be very vocal."
A year ago, the NSFD board voted to adopt a three-year formula after extensive scrutiny that included placing a clearly defined sunset clause on the agreement.
Glendale currently pays the largest share into NSFD at 28.16 percent, followed by Brown Deer at 17.69 percent, Shorewood at 17.45 percent and Whitefish Bay at 17.25 percent, Fox Point at 10.31 percent, Bayside at 6.20 percent and River Hills at 2.94 percent.
River Hills' contribution into NSFD declined 0.2 percent in 2013. From 2007 to 2012, the municipality paid 2.96 percent, based on the prior formula.
Fire Chief Robert Whitaker is among the proponents of the outside facilitator. At the December NSFD board meeting, Whitaker said the selected professional could provide insight with the intent of compromise between all member communities.
Several NSFD board members, including Glendale Mayor Jerome Tepper and Bayside Village President Samuel Dickman, said a prompt hiring of the facilitator would be a proactive move in advance of the 2015 sunset.
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