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Boyceville debates fire hall financing options

By LeAnn R. Ralph

BOYCEVILLE  —  After a significant amount of discussion about financing options for a new fire hall, members of the Boyceville Community Fire District are still no closer to a solution.

Fire district members discussed possible financing scenarios at the July 15 meeting.

One option would be for the Village of Boyceville to take out the loan with the member municipalities contributing their share, or a portion of their share, up front or contributing along the way to pay off the loan.

Another option would involve the Boyceville Community Fire District being the borrower and each member municipality being a guarantor for the loan.

The third option would require each member municipality to arrange financing for its own share of the project up front.

The sticking point for representatives of some of the municipalities in the Boyceville fire district is that no firm cost has been established for building a new fire station.

Rich Monn, chair of the Town of Stanton and chair of the district’s five-year planning committee, noted that a proposal from Design Built Structures for a turn-key fire station was $1 million.

Member municipalities would pay for the fire station according to their share of the equalized value in the fire district, said Gilbert Krueger, chair of the fire district and Boyceville village president.

For example, if Boyceville has 28 percent of the equalized value in the district, Boyceville’s share of the new fire station would be $280,000, he said.

Another important number would be to figure out the cost to taxpayers per $1,000 of property value, Krueger said.

Mike Blechinger, representative for the Town of Tiffany, noted that the fire district had not yet approved a design for the fire station.

Jo Palmer, representative for Boyceville, suggested that the representatives for the member municipalities ask their respective boards how they want to finance a fire station.

Russell Hitz, chair of the Town of Hay River, noted that paying for a fire station would have to be part of each municipality’s budget and that it would be up to the governing body to determine how the money was going to be raised and paid — whether it would be a loan or part of the tax levy.

Finding out the interest and payments on a $250,000 loan for ten years should be relatively easy to accomplish, Krueger said.

Each of the member municipalities would have to approve paying for a new fire station or the project could not move forward.

Members of the Boyceville Community Fire District did not make any decisions about how to finance a new fire station.

The Boyceville fire district’s five-year planning committee planned to meet July 22 to discuss financing options.

Ambulance district

Members of the Boyceville ambulance district learned at the meeting immediately following the fire district meeting that there were occasional problems with payroll for the EMTs.

Because of the way the computer software is structured, it sometimes happens when going down the list of EMTs that one is selected for payment who should not get paid, and the person who is supposed to get paid does not get paid, said Matt Feeney, ambulance service director.

In the past year, the glitch has happened three times, he said.

In each incident, the wrongfully-paid EMT has been willing to pay back the money, and another check has been issued to the rightful payee, Feeney said.

If the problem is detected right away, all of the payments can be rescinded and reissued, he noted.

Mike Blechinger, representative for the Town of Tiffany, wondered if an EMT is overpaid on one check, could the amount be deducted from the next check?

Deductions would require permission from the employee, Krueger said.

Ambulance district members agreed that the district should have a written policy to deal with over-payments and under-payments.

Feeney said he would draw up a sample policy for the board’s consideration at the August meeting.

The Boyceville fire and ambulance districts meet next on August 12.