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Boundary changes vex Zumbrota Fire Board

ZUMBROTA — On Aug. 2, the Zumbrota Fire Board finally accepted a new joint powers agreement after a year and a half of debate. It appeared the future of the board was settled.

It's not.

Since that meeting, Zumbrota Township has changed its fire boundaries, removing five sections from the Zumbrota Fire Department's jurisdiction. Four of those sections will be served by the Goodhue Fire Department; the other by the Mazeppa Fire Department.

The change led to frustration amongst Zumbrota Fire Board members during their meeting on Tuesday. Of Zumbrota Township's 36 sections, approximately 15 will remain in the Zumbrota Fire District.

After seeing the new configuration, Roscoe Township Supervisor Todd Greseth responded, "You said you had just a few changes to make. There are a few more than that."


The changes will add significant cost to membership fees for Wanamingo, Roscoe and Minneola Townships, who, along with Zumbrota Township, are responsible for 51 percent of the cost of running the Zumbrota Fire Department.

Zumbrota Township Supervisor Roger Ballstadt said there was disagreement among the three supervisors, and the boundary change was a compromise. Ballstadt said he was in favor of pulling the entire township out of the Zumbrota Fire Board.

Ballstadt said the new boundaries were drawn because a number of areas in the township are considerably closer to Goodhue and Mazeppa and would get better fire protection from those two departments. The second reason was the difference in fees. Ballstadt said that fire coverage from Goodhue and Mazeppa costs $10 to $12 per capita, while coverage from the Zumbrota department costs $80 to $90 per capita.

When asked by Roscoe Township supervisor Todd Greseth if the new boundaries were a done deal, Ballstadt said that two members of the Zumbrota Township Board were absent from the Sept. 10 meeting and a final vote had not been taken. They plan to meet again on Oct. 8.

Zumbrota Fire Department Secretary-Treasurer Mike Boraas was noticeably frustrated by the change.

"This affects our ability to apply for grants because we have to state what our service area is and what our response times are."

Ballstadt asked the city to attain current information from Goodhue County on land values, population and building values and to have that available at the next Fire Board meeting on Oct. 22. The reconfiguration issue was tabled and the meeting was adjourned.

Sandy Hadler is a freelance writer.

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