Archive for Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Shawnee ups fire service charges to Lake Quivira

June 30, 2010

The Shawnee City Council hopes to better recover costs for emergency services the city provides for Lake Quivira.

Council member Michelle Distler requested last year that city staff take a look at Shawnee’s costs for services to Lake Quivira, and the Council discussed the issue at the June 22 Public Works & Safety Committee meeting. Fire Chief Jeff Hudson recommended a plan that would charge the smaller city $29,310 for services next year, more than the $11,000 to $13,000 Shawnee has received in the past few years, which covered only building review and inspection services.

“We felt like it was a good place to start; we felt like it was fair,” Hudson said. “We’re not providing a full fire service to the city — they have a fire department.”

Lake Quivira has a volunteer fire department with 25 volunteer firefighters. However, during the workday, Shawnee firefighters often respond to fires in Lake Quivira.

Shawnee provides fire services at no charge in other Johnson County cities, as well, due to the Johnson County Mutual Aid agreement. But Lake Quivira’s ability to offer mutual aid is limited, whereas Shawnee firefighters must be ready to cover Lake Quivira fires at all times, Hudson said.

Currently, Shawnee’s agreement with Lake Quivira is to bill $100 per medical call, which does not cover expenses — Hudson said the total cost was more like $164.50. Shawnee also charges for building plan review and building inspections. In 2008, Shawnee charged $13,351 for these services; in 2009, it charged $11,541.

To create an equitable price for offering the same level of fire protection for Lake Quivira residents as Shawnee residents receive, the Fire Department decided to base the price on what Shawnee residents pay for fire services per household.

The average house in Shawnee, valued at $214,676, pays $51 annually for fire protection based on the city budget. The Fire Department determined an average home in Lake Quivira, valued at $526,911, would pay $124.30 for fire services annually if it were in Shawnee.

Shawnee officials multiplied the charges by the 393 homes in Lake Quivira, and then gave Lake Quivira a 40 percent “credit” for its volunteer fire department to come up with a 2011 payment of $29,310. The cost would be reviewed annually.

The Lake Quivira City Council reviewed and unanimously approved a draft agreement for the charge June 16.

Council member Dan Pflumm was concerned that the cost was too low. In the past, Pflumm said, some city staffers thought the cost to be closer to $60,000. He said because Shawnee has about one firefighter per 1,000 residents, Lake Quivira, with a population of about 1,000, ought to be charged at least the cost of one firefighter.

Council member Jeff Vaught said the cost was a good deal for Shawnee, since Shawnee had responded to six fires and 29 medical calls in Lake Quivira last year. If those numbers were duplicated in the future, Shawnee would be getting about $800 per call.

But Hudson had noted that population does not directly correlate with fire services, while looking at the number of calls does not account for the “preparedness” training firefighters receive to cover the additional population. It was also important to give Lake Quivira credit for its volunteer department, he said.

Council members on the committee approved sending the agreement on to the full Council for approval.


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