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Star Prairie board OKs fire contract

Attorney Tim Scott presented the Star Prairie Village Board with a proposed contract to replace the current year-to-year contract regulating fire and rescue services between the village and New Richmond Fire & Rescue.

The existing contract has been in place unchanged for the past 50 years. Impetus for changing the contract arose when partnering municipalities were asked to make, in several instances, substantial capital contributions to the City of New Richmond to pay for structural renovations to the department’s fire hall. Prior contributions paid for equipment and operating costs. In addition to the city, five other municipalities contract with New Richmond Fire & Rescue for services, including the towns of Erin Prairie, Richmond, Star Prairie, Stanton and the Village of Star Prairie. The new contract requires that members receive a deeded percentage of ownership in any structural improvements proportionate to their capital contribution. Under the old contract each municipality had an equal vote in deciding matters pertinent to the collective. Under the proposed contract, each municipality would have a vote proportionate to the percentage of operational costs they pay toward the annual budget.

“It makes sense to me. Those votes should not be equal when the shares are so substantially different,” Scott said.

That percentage, determined by the property values in each municipality, varies greatly from the larger municipalities of the Town of Richmond and the Town of Star Prairie to the smaller members such as the Town of Erin Prairie, the Town of Stanton and the Village of Star Prairie. The new contract further proposes that any expenditure over $50,000 require a two-thirds vote for approval.

The board voted 3-1 to endorse the proposed contract with Trustee Bruce Johnson objecting. Scott encouraged board members to attend the City of New Richmond Finance Committee meeting scheduled for April 7 to voice their support for the proposed contract.

Chuck Schwartz of MSA Professional Services invited the board on behalf of all village residents to participate in the newly formed Highway 64 Stormwater and Wastewater Coalition. The coalition currently consists of the towns of St. Joseph and Somerset, the villages of Somerset and Star Prairie, the unincorporated area of Deer Park, and the City of New Richmond. Schwartz explained the coalition serves as a coordinating body for the expenditure of stormwater and wastewater planning and implementation funds as a portion of Growth Management Mitigation funds specified in the St. Croix River Crossing project. Schwartz explained the coalition is currently collecting data and input from member communities as well other communities impacting the Apple and Willow River watersheds.

“The mission of the coalition is to protect ground and surface water as this area grows, and to mitigate some of the impacts of that growth on the watersheds,” Schwartz said.

Also as part of phase one, the coalition will review code and ordinances of participating communities in order to establish the overall scope of the project. If the coalition can achieve a consensus among members as to priorities and projects, they hope that will lead to a larger overall perspective and a comprehensive plan in phase two. Phase one should be completed this August.

Phase two, expected to be completed by 2016, will involve modeling of the ideal watersheds based on all the collected data and community input, establishment of common standards and policies across all communities and distribution of funds. In order to further leverage mitigation funds, the coalition plans award funds using a 50/50 match formula.

Other business:

— The board set Wednesday, April 9, at 6 p.m. at the Community Center as the date and time for the public hearing pertaining to Esher Enterprises proposed placement of the historic chapel in River Island Park.

— The board set Wednesday, April 9, at 6:30 p.m. at the Community Center as the date and time for the public hearing pertaining to the County Road M improvement project.

— The board set May 29 from 4-6 p.m. for Open Book at the Community Center.

— The board set May 29 from 6-8 p.m. for Board of Review at the Community Center.

— The board approved a utility request to make an adjustment to customers’ bills for running water to prevent freezing of the service or main water lines this winter. Adjustments will be based on a comparison of last year’s bills for the same period of service.

— The board listened to a proposed amendment to the Village Construction and Repair of Sidewalks; Cost of Curb and Gutter ordinance presented by Lisa Reardon. No action was taken.

The next regularly scheduled meeting of the Village Board is scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 9, at the Community Center.