Lake Country (Wis.) Fire Seeks to Negotiate EMS Contracts with Neighboring Communities

Stotts said he didn't believe a merger could occur before 2013


KELLY SMITH, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel | | Wednesday, August 24, 2011

HARTLAND, Wis. -- Lake Country Fire and Rescue plans to seek permission from its three municipal owners to negotiate paramedic ambulance service contracts with neighboring communities, including possibly communities in the Summit Fire Protect District.

Board Chairman Rod Stotts thinks that seeking permission from the villages of Chenequa and Nashotah and the City of Delafield is a formality. He told board members during a Thursday, Aug. 11, meeting that he had discussed seeking the contracts with elected officials in the owner communities, and they approved of the idea.

However, Stotts told the board that the department attorney, Hector de la Mora, thought it was necessary for the three communities to amend the agreement creating the consolidated department in order for the Fire Board enter into the negotiations. The Summit Fire Protection District is exploring the possibility of merging either with the Dousman Fire Protection District or Lake Country Fire and Rescue.

However, Stotts said he did not believe a merger with Lake Country Fire Rescue could occur before 2013.

The villages of Summit and Oconomowoc Lake, which are part of the Summit Fire Protection District, receive emergency medical services from the City of Oconomowoc.

Officials of the Summit Fire Protection district have said Summit and Oconomowoc Lake may be interested in receiving emergency medical services from Lake Country Fire Rescue because the services may be more cost-effective than they receive from Oconomowoc.

Lake Country Fire and Rescue currently has paramedic emergency-response contracts with the villages of Merton and Sussex, and used to provide services to the city and village of Pewaukee until the Pewaukee Fire Department created its own paramedic program.

Lake Country Fire and Rescue also provides emergency paramedic service on an incident-by-incident basis to other neighboring communities.

In addition, the department provides paramedic ambulance services necessary when Lake Country area hospitals transfer their patients to hospitals in Milwaukee.

The fees paid by hospitals, municipalities and patients using the ambulance service are expected to generate about $1.05 million in 2012, according to Stotts, who anticipates the department's budget for next year will be about $1.93 million.

The 2012 budget will be presented to the three communities for approval later this year when the department receives final cost projections of healthcare benefits for fulltime firefighters.

Stotts anticipates the three municipal owners will contribute a total of about $879,030 in 2012. The individual community contributions are based on the population and number calls in each community in addition to the equalized value of all taxable structures, but not land, in each community.

Stotts said he does not anticipate any of the communities will be faced with a large increase in their share of the operating cost of the department. That will be good news for the elected officials and staffs of each of the communities who are faced with creating budgets that are likely to include at least small increases in operating expenses yet little increase in revenues because of tax levy limits imposed by the state, reduced shared revenues from the state, and little growth in local tax bases because of the economic recession.

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