03/18/10 519 W - + 2 - 3 Fire Commission Meeting Highlights

First, see the previously posted agenda and related documents. Very short meeting tonight, perhaps a record. Adjourned about 7:35 p.m. On the regular agenda, the Fire Commission approved distribution of FY10 contingency funds, as well as a revision to the small vehicle policy. The latter changes the mileage replacement for administrative-type vehicles from 75,000 to 100,000 miles.

An overview was presented of FY11 budget development. Fire tax revenues are projected to be slightly more than the current budget year, which might be considered no small feat given our economic conditions (my words). Another $9,000 of revenue is expected in apparatus sales. In FY10, apparatus sales totaled $46,000, which were sales of apparatus originally purchased by single fire tax district funds and subsequently replaced by the county.

Department appropriations are assumed as the same as this budget year, at least during this process. Added expenditures include increases for staffing, local government retirement system adjustments, and operating costs for Garner Station 4. That facility is expected to be operational in November. Funding includes training of some personnel, as well as the operating costs once opened. There are also a mess of system-wide appropriations. CAD, radio, haz-mat, forestry, etc.

On the information agenda, county staff presented the latest revision of the Fire Protection Agreement. They noted that the document is not ready for approval at this time, but the Fire Commission was being provided the latest version. A committee is still working on same, and the goal date for presenting to the Fire Commission for approval is by July 1. Might have a special-called meeting for that purpose.

County staff called particular attention to additions in Section 13, concerning the composition of Board of Directors. Added language includes a restriction against "compensated current employees" serving on boards, a restriction against "family members" of the fire chief serving on Boards, and a requirement of 20 percent citizen composition of boards, for those departments with by-laws that permit same.

There was subsequent discussion about Section 13. Such as what constitutes a family member, which is defined in the agreement as parent, spouse, child, or sibling. Did that also include, say, the son-in-law of a fire chief? That was explained in a fashion that Yours Truly doesn't readily recall, or perhaps didn't entirely follow.  It was noted that the committee has also received the suggestion of a similar restriction for the President of a Board.

There was other discussion about Section 13. Such as requiring versus recommending citizen participation on Boards, and how some departments have difficulty getting citizens to participate therein. Except where by-laws prohibit. Yes, it's true, some departments prohibit citizens from serving on boards. Other department boards, it was noted, consist exclusively of citizens.

There were comments about departments with older by-laws, crafted back before paid personnel were on the roster. And the need for revision and revisiting.

And the discussed wrapped with the acknowledgement that this agreement represents a smaller step toward more uniform governance (my words). Kicking over the rock, as one person noted. But not changing everything at once.

Corrections and additions welcome. Next time, how 'bout a group photo?

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