Officials agree on fire contract extension
After two months of negotiations, consideration of options and heated debate, the City of New Richmond and its surrounding municipalities have come to an agreement on a fire contract for the next five years.
At a Nov. 4 meeting of the New Richmond Fire Advisory Board, representatives from the City of New Richmond, the Village of Star Prairie and the towns of Erin Prairie, Stanton, Star Prairie and Richmond signed a fiveyear extension to the current contract.
“It was a respectful meeting,” said New Richmond Fire & Rescue Chief Jim Vander Wyst.
In early November, the neighboring municipalities were rocked by a proposed contract from the city that would have been a significant departure from the way the entities had done business over the years.
Amid attempting to replace a 29-year-old ladder truck that had failed inspection, representatives from the city sought a contract that expanded their decisionmaking authority when it came to making major purchases for the department with the ability to bill the other municipalities using the fire service.
In the following weeks, the neighboring municipalities began exploring other options for fire service, including the possibility of opening new fire stations in the Village of Star Prairie and the unincorporated area of Boardman in the Town of Richmond.
The fire department is planning a celebration event for residents to check out the new ladder truck after it arrives in New Richmond.
It wasn’t until Oct. 21 that the Fire Advisory Board met again. Heated debate took place at the meeting before all parties tentatively agreed to the five-year contract extension pending approval from each of the municipalities boards.
Also approved at the Nov. 4 Fire Advisory Board meeting was the purchase of a used ladder truck from the Allingtown Fire Department in West Haven, Conn., for a total of $528,000.
“By the end of the month I’d imagine we should see the Connecticut truck here,” Vander Wyst said.
To head off any discord between the city and its neighbors in the future, the board took action to create subcommittees to explore major purchases.
“We are going to work as two different groups,” said City Administrator Mike Darrow. “There’s going to be a subcommittee meeting in January to look at capital improvements. There will be another subcommittee that may look at this contract for tweaks and future budgets as well.”
With the contract extension and ladder truck purchase in the past, Darrow is optimistic the municipalities will work well together in the future.
“I think that it’s good that we’re taking a break. It’s been a long summer and fall to get to this point,” Darrow said. “All in all, everyone is satisfied with it. I think coming into the new year will give everybody an opportunity to get re-involved in the project now that we know we’re partners for five years.”