SDFD Looking to Budget for the Future

In preparation for the Town of Nasewaupee planning to leave the Southern Door Fire Department (SDFD) this fall, the remaining three municipalities will need to come up with the money to continue the department’s operation when more than two-thirds of the property taxes now used to fund it will no longer be available.

Forestville village president Terry McNulty said the remaining 32% support for the SDFD breaks down to 15% from the Town of Forestville, 12% from the Town of Clay Banks and 5% from the Village of Forestville.

The boards of those three municipalities approved resolutions late last month related to reorganizing the SDFD, which was formed by all four municipalities in 1980. Those resolutions call for the board chairs of the SDFD’s three remaining municipalities to work together to negotiate the separation of Nasewaupee from the department and to provide for the continuation of fire protection beyond Sept. 27 – when Nasewaupee’s split would be effective – with a new operating agreement.

The SDFD’s fire board also discussed the department’s future when it met May 10 at the Forestville station. McNulty, who is one of the village’s two representatives on the fire board, said the agreement that formed the Brussels-Union-Gardner Fire Department will be used as a guide to reorganize the SDFD.

“The big thing is going to be when this [fire] board puts together a budget, it’s going to have to be early enough so that we can get it to our towns and village to approve, because we’ve got to make that work out of our budget,” he said.

SDFD Chief Rich Olson said he plans to put together a rough draft of the next year’s department budget to present to the fire board during its June meeting.

“I’ll give it my best guess,” he said.

Olson said he hopes the reorganized department – which will have one station instead of two, fewer trucks and fewer pieces of equipment, and 16 or 17 fewer firefighters and emergency medical responders – will be able to operate at around 40% of the current budget.

The current annual SDFD budget, finalized last September, included $433,863.93 in revenue and expenses. Of around $409,000 in the total tax levy contributed by the four municipalities, approximately $293,000 is Nasewaupee’s portion, based on equalized value.

To own the fire station in Nasewaupee and its equipment upon leaving the department, the town is exercising an option in the original operating agreement to pay the remaining municipalities “an amount equal to the percentage of the then-fair-market value of the property contributed by the remaining municipalities.”

McNulty said the three remaining municipalities plan to finalize that at the end of September.

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