Boyceville committee recommends soliciting bids for design of new fire station
By LeAnn R. Ralph
BOYCEVILLE — The Five-Year Capital Improvement and Planning Committee of the Boyceville Community Fire District has recommended sending out requests for proposals (RFPs) for the design of a new fire station.
Rich Monn, chair of the five-year planning committee and representative in the fire district for the Town of Stanton, said he “got uneasy” when representatives for Five Bugles Design said the cost for designing a new fire station in Boyceville would be $100,000.
Members of the fire district also wondered if the district is required by state law to solicit bids to enter into a contract to design a new fire station.
Terry Dunst, an attorney with the law firm of Bakke Norman, sent an opinion to the fire district dated December 4.
According to Dunst’s written opinion, the Boyceville fire district is not required by state law to follow the bidding requirement to bid on contracts for professional services.
“I underlined the word ‘required’ because I also want to point out that while you are not required to follow the bidding procedure, it is often a good idea. Public entities that spend public money are required to spend that money wisely, in the best interest of the public. To ensure that you are getting the best ‘bang for your buck’ — the best quality for a fair price, public bidding is often a very good way to make sure that money is spent wisely,” Dunst wrote.
Representatives for Five Bugles Design presented an estimate to the Boyceville fire district board at the November meeting.
The estimate for a new fire station is $1.9 million, and the cost for designing the station is $100,000.
The cost to prepare the site near the airport is listed at $300,000.
A bigger issue for the fire district, Dunst pointed out in his memo, is that it does not appear that the fire district has the authority to enter into contracts.
“In reviewing the Boyceville Community Fire District agreement, I do not see where it has been given this authority by the member municipalities,” he wrote.
A related question is whether the fire district has the authority to bind a member municipality financially to pay for designing and building a new fire station.
“For example, if the fire district enters into a design contract for $100,000, can it force its member municipalities to pay their share?” Dunst wrote.
Members of the five-year planning committee did not discuss the issue of whether the fire district has the authority to enter into contracts.
What to do?
Prior to the discussion and recommendation about the RFPs, members of the five-year planning committee discussed setting a budget for building a new fire station.
Monn suggested doing some research to find out what other fire districts have paid for a fire station of a similar size.
Monn also suggested that members of the five-year planning committee and members of the fire department travel to other new fire stations to see what has been built.
The new fire station in Grantsburg was one of Monn’s suggestions.
Grantsburg’s new fire station is 13,900 square feet and cost $1.7 million to build. The fire station proposed by Five Bugles Design is 12,560 square feet. Boyceville’s existing fire station is 5,000 square feet.
“We can’t get a number (for the budget) until we know what we are going to build,” Monn said.
The five-year planning committee agreed to postpone setting a budget for the new fire station until members of the committee and the firefighters have had a chance to visit other new fire stations.
Paul Wathke, five-year planning committee member and representative for the Town of Sherman, noted that based on a cost of $1.9 million, Sherman’s share of a new fire station would be $190,000.
The Town of Sherman is planning to hold an advisory referendum on the question of building a new fire station during the spring election in April, he said.
“What do you want to do?” Monn asked.
At this point, the two options for the five-year planning committee were to recommend that the fire district board send out requests for proposals or else go ahead with the Five Bugles proposal of $100,000 to design a new fire station.
A cost of “$100,000 seems high to design a fire hall. It might turn out to be (that amount) but I want to make sure,” said Ned Hahn, representative for the Town of Hay River.
Any architectural firm that is designing a new fire station “is not starting from scratch” and is not designing a new type of building that has never before been built, he noted.
Members of the five-year planning committee unanimously approved a motion to recommend that the fire district board send out RFPs to other architectural firms for designing a new fire station.
Voting in favor of the motion were Monn (Stanton); Wathke (Sherman); Jill Huber (Town of New Haven); Hahn (Hay River); Gilbert Krueger (Boyceville); and Mike Blechinger (Town of Tiffany).
Wheeler is a member of the Boyceville fire district, but no representatives for the Village of Wheeler have attended any of the five-year planning committee meetings or meetings of the Boyceville fire district board.
The Boyceville Community Fire District meets next on December 16 at 6:30 p.m. at the Boyceville Village Hall.