By LeAnn R. Ralph
BOYCEVILLE — The Boyceville Community Fire District Board has approved a budget of $130,875 for 2017, representing a $5,500 increase over the 2016 budget of $125,375.
The Boyceville fire board met October 12 to consider the budget and tax levy for 2017.
The initially proposed budget was $128,875, but fire board members approved adding $2,000 for architectural fees for a total of $5,000.
So far this year, the Boyceville fire department has gone out on 48 runs, said Boyceville Fire Chief Brian Marlette.
According to Marlette’s report, the runs this year include one electrical fire, five vehicle fires, 17 rescue/lift assists, six structure fires, and two grass/brush fires.
Mutual aid for this year has included one miscellaneous run for Glenwood City and one vehicle fire for Glenwood City; two structure fires in Glenwood City; one structure fire in Prairie Farm and one in Colfax; four structure fires in Menomonie and one grass/brush fire in Menomonie; and one rescue/lift assist in Eau Claire County.
To date, Boyceville has not received any mutual aid from other fire departments in the area.
Other budget increases for 2017 include $1,000 more for training for a total of $5,000; $2,000 more for protective equipment and clothing for a total of $7,000; $100 more for promotions, for a total of $500; and $500 more for maintenance of other equipment for a total of $3,500.
The Boyceville fire department has passed the dates for replacement of the brush truck and the fire engines, Marlette said.
“We should keep on it,” he said, noting that the fire department has $360,000 in the bank.
“We should start replacing apparatus before it starts bringing big problems,” Marlette said.
Gilbert Krueger, chair of the fire board and Boyceville village president, asked how Marlette proposed to replace the equipment.
Brokers advertise refurbished and used equipment in monthly magazines, Marlette said.
A new fire engine would cost somewhere around $300,000 or $350,000, and a used fire engine might cost around $200,000, he said.
Bud Gilbertson, fire board member and representative for the village of Boyceville, asked about the trade-in value for existing equipment.
The brokers will take the used the equipment and try to sell it, but the trade-in amount would not be very good, Marlette said.
Charles Maves, fire board member and representative for the Town of Sherman, suggested that Marlette investigate possible trade-in value and costs for replacement equipment.
“Look into it. You maybe could be surprised on a price,” Krueger said.
“What would it take to get the Village of Wheeler to be involved in our meetings?” asked Mike Blechinger, fire board member and representative for the Town of Tiffany.
Since the fire district was formed several years ago, Wheeler has rarely, if ever, sent any representatives to the fire board meetings.
The Boyceville fire district includes the towns of Hay River, Tiffany, Sherman, Stanton and New Haven as well as the villages of Boyceville and Wheeler.
Krueger and Marlette both said they have called several times to invite Wheeler Village Board members to come to the fire board meetings.
Blechinger also wondered about $1,500 in fire department invoices for Wheeler from 2015 that have not yet been paid.
Darlene Lee, Boyceville clerk-treasurer and the clerk-treasurer for the fire board, said she sends out invoices every month to the Village of Wheeler.
Each of the invoices is for $500. One is for a fuel spill at the BP Bridge stop in February of 2015. One is for a landing zone at the ball park in Wheeler in March of 2015; and one is for a carbon monoxide detector in August of 2015.
At the time of the fuel spill, a representative for Bridge Stop said the gas station was not going to pay for the fuel spill, Marlette said.
The fuel spill happened when a college student stopped at the gas station to fill his car. Because it was cold outside, the young man got back into his vehicle after putting the nozzle in his gas tank to fill it. Unbeknownst to the student, when he slammed his car door after getting back inside, the hose fell out of the gas tank and was pumping fuel on the ground, Marlette said, noting that it took a while for the student to notice that gasoline was pumping out on the ground.
The student also said he was not going to pay for the fire department responding to a fuel spill, Marlette said.
“It was at a gas station, and it could have been ugly. (The spilled gasoline) was heading for the storm sewer grate,” he said.
The fire board has three options: forgive the invoices; continue sending notices to Wheeler; or start the collection process, Krueger said.
“We don’t know if legally we can attach it to the assessment,” Krueger said.
“It would warrant investigation to see whether it could be put on the assessment,” Maves said.
“It’s too bad we have to go that route,” he added.
Fire board members agreed that Krueger should contact the village’s attorney to see if the $1,500 for Wheeler could be added to the village’s fire department assessment.
Blechinger reported that the five-year planning and capital improvement committee of the Boyceville fire district planned to meet in closed session November 2 with the architectural firms that have submitted Requests for Proposals to the fire district for designing a new fire station.
Committee members want more details about the RFPs and are seeking clarification about what is included in each bid, Blechinger said.
The Tribune Press Reporter has already published the bid amounts from the architectural firms, so it is not immediately clear why the committee is meeting in closed session.
Ratsch Engineering, with a bid amount of $84,000 for designing a new fire station, will make a presentation to the five-year planning committee at 6 p.m. November 2.
Five Bugles Design, with a bid amount of $101,500, will make a presentation at 6:30 p.m.
Short Elliott Hendrickson, with a bid amount of $174,000, will make a presentation at 7 p.m.
Cedar Corporation, with a bid amount of $119,750, will make a presentation at 7:30 p.m.
Knowing what is specifically included in the RFP is critical for fire board members so they can take an accurate number back to their town boards to obtain authorization for moving forward with building a new fire station.
The RFPs are based on building a 13,000 square-foot fire station.
Estimates for building a new fire station have ranged from $1 million to nearly $3 million.
The five-year planning committee is expected to make a recommendation on the RFPs at the next meeting of the Boyceville Community Fire District Board November 16.
The fire board meets at 6:30 p.m. at the Boyceville Village Hall.