Zumbrota Fire Board verbally accepts Joint Powers Agreement
ZUMBROTA — A last-minute proposal by Zumbrota Mayor Rich Bauer resulted in verbal acceptance of a new Joint Powers Agreement by members of the Zumbrota Fire Board on Nov. 19.
Bauer said that he had asked city council members to approve a one-year Joint Powers contract, which had been proposed at the last Fire Board meeting on Oct. 22.
Bauer said the council agreed to a one-year contract, but also wanted the payment formula to be based solely on estimated market value and the city's percentage of payment reduced from 49% to 44.7%.
Minneola Township Supervisor Bill Budensiek expressed concern that farm land values had increased considerably since 2011, and he felt it wouldn't be fair to the townships if the formula was based only on estimated market value.
Zumbrota Township Supervisor Roger Ballstadt added, "I don't know if we can move forward on that until we get the evaluations from the county. Without seeing them, how can we move forward?"
Roscoe Township Supervisor Todd Greseth pointed out that the townships base their taxes on market value, and he wondered why population had been added as a component in an earlier proposed formula.
Ballstad responded, "I wanted it in. The city has 60% of the fire runs. There has been a dramatic increase in ag land evaluations. Having population included equalizes what we pay. We have a small amount of people in our township to pay services. In comparison to the other townships that we work with for fire protection, the cost of service with Zumbrota Fire Department has gotten so high."
Sensing that the proposal was in trouble, Fire Department Secretary/Treasurer Mike Boraas asked, "So what needs to be done next?"
Ballstadt responded, "The proposed change is a completely different direction than we were going. All the townships should go back and discuss it, if you are going to make that big of a change."
Boraas responded, "If you can't close on a deal by the end of next month, I am going to the state auditor. It is not acceptable that we can't come to some resolution."
A recess was taken for the township members to discuss the proposal. Upon returning, all were in agreement to accept the proposal, except for Zumbrota Township.
Ballstadt asked if the Board was willing to agree to a 3-year contract, but the issue was tabled.
Near the end of the meeting, Bauer made a last-minute proposal for a 3-year Joint Powers agreement that included a 49%/51% city/township payment split. All agreed.
On Wednesday, City Administrator Neil Jensen put the contract together and it was sent to the townships to be signed.