The West Metro Fire-Rescue District Board of Directors met on February 18, 2015. I was appointed to be Crystal’s representative on the West Metro board earlier this year, and this was my first meeting.
The meeting kicked off in a fun way- with the swearing in of 9 new firefighters and one new lieutenant (pictured above).
After that we headed back into the meeting room to get the meeting started.
We first dealt with some old business- things that were discussed at the end of last year before I became a director. We passed a revision to the by-laws that was made redundant by recent changes to the joint powers agreement, accepted the chief’s 2015 goals for the department, and discussed how the department will allocate donations it receives from the West Metro Relief Association. The Relief Association has a charitable wing that earns revenue from charitable gambling (and other sources), which is in turn sometimes donated to the department. For instance, the Relief Association donated $7,500 to the department at Wednesday’s meeting. The discussion was about where the donated money would be allocated, and a few accounts were identified for those funds.
Next we went on to new business- approving the purchase of a new Chevy Tahoe to replace an old Ford Expedition, approving the purchase of some furniture for sleeping quarters for when firefighters spend the night at the station (during extreme cold weather or when they need to be on standby for major events), and the purchase of some iPads which will replace old laptops that are at the end of life.
The only item on the agenda that generated any significant discussion among the directors was the next item, which is a plan to replace 3 part time fire inspectors with one full time inspector. The department has had turnover in their part time inspector ranks and feels this will be mitigated by going to a full time inspector instead. I had concerns with this approach on two fronts- 1) that we are trading 72 hours per week of inspection time for 40 hours, and that 2) the cost went up to do so, based on an increase in wages, benefits and pension for full time employees.
The chief felt that the increase in productivity and decrease in expense based on lack of turnover would justify the new plan.
In the end it seemed that I was the only director who had any reservations, and the item ended up passing . I did end up voting in the affirmative, as I didn’t feel I had enough information to vote against the measure, and decided to trust the judgement of department management on this issue.
Next we moved on to preliminary discussion about the 2016 budget. Although it’s only February, the West Metro budget needs to be started now, because it must be approved by the councils of both New Hope and Crystal, and that needs to be done before the cities can work on their budgets.
So we’ll be discussing the budget in more detail at the next meeting.
One thing that I need to mention is the fifth annual “Firefighters Fighting Hunger” food drive. It will be held on March 21 this year.
Last year our firefighters collected enough food and cash to provide over 10,000 meals! Please see this link for more details including where to drop off food.
West Metro’s board meets every other month, so the next meeting is April 8 at 6:30 PM at First Station 3 in New Hope (next to New Hope city hall).