Lannon adopts resolution for Falls fire talks
Two trustees question Newman's role in talks
Village of Lannon - With some dissent, the Village Board on Monday adopted a resolution authorizing continued negotiations between Lannon and the village of Menomonee Falls over a possible consolidation or shared service agreement between the two community fire departments.
The resolution directs the village president "to negotiate and bring back for the Village Board's consideration of a proposed agreement, for possible approval, between the village of Lannon and the village of Menomonee Falls regarding the provision for fire protection, fire inspection and ambulance services."
The resolution also authorizes Village President Jerry Newman "to investigate additional opportunities for intergovernmental cooperation between the village of Lannon and the village of Menomonee Falls and to report back to the Village Board from time to time on such efforts and for possible approvals as needed."
Lannon Trustees Ronald Nellis and Daryl Fiene questioned why only the village president is directed by the resolution to participate in the negotiations rather than also having members of the Public Safety Committee involved in the discussions.
Fiene noted after the meeting that both he and Nellis are members of the Public Safety Committee and were members of the village volunteer fire department.
"I have more than 17 years experience on the department, this man next to me (referring to Nellis) has even more experience. I don't understand why someone from the Public Safety Committee isn't also involved. Two heads are better that one," Fiene said.
Nellis noted there were several issues related to fire department equipment and personnel that had not been resolved and the village trustees had not been provided a copy of a Memorandum of Understanding drafted by the two departments regarding a possible inter-municipal fire service agreement.
However, Nellis voted for the resolution after Newman reminded him any agreements resulting from the negotiations would have to be ratified by the Village Board. Fiene, however, voted against the resolution on the voice vote.
Menomonee Falls is expected to adopt a similar resolution later this month.
Private negotiations between Menomonee Falls and Lannon officials have been going on for about 18 months, according to Newman and Menomonee Falls Village Manager Mark Fitzgerald.
Fitzgerald and Newman told the Sussex Sun two weeks ago that the negotiations had reached a point where it was necessary to gain both communities' approvals before continuing the talks.
A tentative agreement has been reached regarding the operating structure of the department and how some of Lannon's equipment and personnel would be incorporated with the Menomonee Falls department, according to Newman.
However, Newman said it has not been decided whether the two departments will consolidate or whether Menomonee Falls would provide fire and ambulance services to the Lannon on a contractual basis and the Lannon department would be dissolved.
Newman said issues have not been resolved regarding how the new department would be governed, how the communities would share in the costs of a consolidation agreement or contract, or how Lannon might be reimbursed for assets it provides Menomonee Falls as part of an agreement.
The Lannon department has a budget of about $190,000 and relies on about 35 volunteers who are paid a stipend for each time they respond to an emergency call.
The Menomonee Falls department has budget of nearly $3 million with 14 full-time firefighters, 24 part-time firefighters, and about 85 volunteers who are paid a stipend each time they respond to a call or on duty during overnight hours.
Newman has said the consolidation or service contract could save the village of Lannon about $1.5 million because it would enable the village to avoid either remodeling or replacing its existing Village Hall Fire Station.
Menomonee Falls officials have said the consolidation or service contract could help them improve emergency services to residents on the village's far west side. There are plans to build two stations in the vicinity of Lannon; one at Main Street and Menomonee Avenue and the other on Silver Spring Drive near One Mile Road.
The consolidation or service contract could provide Lannon volunteers to help staff those two stations, according to Menomonee Falls fire officials.
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