The Town of Nasewaupee remains on track to split this fall from the Southern Door Fire Department (SDFD) and form its own department, after rejecting the latest attempt from the SDFD’s other three municipalities to urge Nasewaupee to stay.
No one on the Nasewaupee Town Board – which held its first monthly meeting April 20 since expanding from three to five members, with the addition of two supervisors following the spring general election – was in favor of staying with the SDFD. Four municipalities formed that entity in 1980.
Forestville village president Terry McNulty, Forestville town chair Kevin Guilette and Clay Banks town chair Myron Johnson wrote a letter to Nasewaupee town chair Steve Sullivan urging him to continue working with them as part of the SDFD. McNulty was also present for Nasewaupee’s town board meeting to speak against the split.
“It’s kind of our last-ditch effort to try to still resolve this and negotiate keeping the Southern Door Fire Department together,” McNulty said.
The SDFD is currently overseen by an eight-member fire board composed of two representatives from each municipality. However, with Nasewaupee paying more than two-thirds of the cost to run the SDFD through a tax levy based on equalized value, the town sought to have more representation on the board and lower the percentage it contributes to the department.
Sullivan said the other three municipalities earlier this year offered to allow Nasewaupee to have a third person on the fire board, but not to lower its percentage of funding.
McNulty said the other three municipalities would now consider making the representation on the fire board more in line with population to give Nasewaupee two more representatives and lower the percentage it pays.
“There’s so many ways we could negotiate to get your number down, even if it’s a .5 or .49 mill rate,” McNulty said.
Nasewaupee gave the other three municipalities a one-year notice at the fire board’s annual meeting last September that it planned to split from the SDFD and form its own department. Last month, the Nasewaupee Town Board approved an ordinance to create Nasewaupee’s own department and also approved the selection of Jacob Schartner as its chief.
Because of problems arising between SDFD personnel stationed at the north fire station in Nasewaupee and the south station in Forestville, Sullivan said Nasewaupee would be able to attract more fire department staff by having its own department.
“It’s been a staffing problem,” he said. “We’ve got a number of people that want to join.”
By staying in the SDFD, Sullivan said he expects the Nasewaupee station would lose firefighters.
Supervisor 4 Jill Lau said she doesn’t want to see the SDFD split, but she thinks it’s too late in the process for Nasewaupee to now decide to stay in the SDFD after all it has done so far to form its own department.
“There isn’t a firefighter outside of our Nasewaupee ones that will say this [split] is a good idea, up and down this peninsula,” she said. “Fire departments are hard to staff. It’s a volunteer department. With that said, I think that at the point we’re at, we’re beyond negotiating.”
To be able to start Oct. 1 with what will be known as Nasewaupee Fire Rescue, Lau said “we have to move forward, and we have to unfortunately part ways and hope for the best.”
The operating agreement forming the SDFD states that Nasewaupee, should it decide to leave the department, would have the first option to purchase the pieces of equipment housed at the fire station in the town “at their then-fair-market value.”
Given Nasewaupee’s contribution toward the SDFD, Sullivan said the town would have to pay 32% toward the cost to purchase the equipment and the Nasewaupee station, and it will be negotiating with the other three municipalities to agree on a price.
“If we’re at $705,000 for everything that we want to buy with our estimates, 32% of that, that’s all we’d pay, because we’ve got to pay 32 cents on the dollar,” he said. “We’re 68% vested here. Our cost would be $226,000.”
Based on estimates used by the other three municipalities, Sullivan said Nasewaupee’s cost would be around $280,000 – roughly a $54,000 difference.
“I think we can come to an agreement on that,” he said.
After board members went into closed session to formulate a negotiation strategy for the purchase of assets from the SDFD corporation, they announced that Sullivan and Lau will negotiate with the corporation.
New Department Logo
Artist and designer Greg Lynch of Nasewaupee appeared before the board to present the logo he had created for Nasewaupee Fire Rescue. He said the logo incorporates a sunrise because the word “Nasewaupee” is derived from the Memominee tribe’s reference to the sunrise.
In addition to using the logo for a cloth patch, Lynch said the package he created will make it possible to adapt the logo for other applications such as cups and signs.
“It has to be able to be reproduced – small scale, large scale – for a sign, and this design incorporates all of those features,” he said. “You will get the electronic files for the staff to use in letterhead and communications.”