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Fox Point accepts NSFD funding formula, for now

Officials want new formula created before 2015

Sept. 12, 2012

Fox Point - The Fox Point Village Board Tuesday begrudgingly accepted its percentage of the North Shore Fire Department's budget as allotted in an amended NSFD funding formula, which will be in effect for the next three years.

Trustees took action in July to add a three-year sunset clause to the formula so that Fox Point, as well as the other NSFD member communities, can renegotiate in 2015. The sunset clause was supported by the River Hills Village Board and was ultimately approved by the NSFD Board of Directors, though a decrease in Fox Point's percentage contribution - which trustees and Village President Michael West had expressed interest in - was not.

In the new funding formula, Fox Point will contribute 10.31 percent of the NSFD budget annually, down from the 10.38 percent it had paid from 2008 through 2012. However, West and Fox Point trustees have taken issue with the new percentage, since it is more than the 9.31 percent Fox Point would be paying for the next three years had the original NSFD funding formula in effect from 1995 through 2007 been used and the percentages not been frozen in 2008.

"If you think (the original) formula is fair, then these proposed numbers aren't really fair to Fox Point," said trustee F.R. Dengel.

West told trustees that using an NSFD subcommittee to come up with the altered formula hadn't worked, in his estimation, and that he would campaign for negotiations between all the member communities and a new formula between now and 2015.

"I will be active, and it may be that this village board at some point needs to formally pass a resolution asking the (NSFD board) to bring the seven communities together at one place and one time to negotiate a new formula," West said.

The village board voted 5-1 to approve the funding formula, with trustee F.R. Dengel dissenting and trustee William Warner absent.

The new set of percentages was the result of a fairly straightforward change, according to NSFD Fire Chief Robert Whitaker, who was present at the meeting: Glendale's percentage increased by about half a percent, and the amount of that increase was deducted from the other six communities' shares proportional to their contributions - e.g. Fox Point's share was reduced by about 10 percent of Glendale's increase because it contributes approximately 10 percent of the budget.

That change, and the formula itself, didn't sit right with West.

"I wouldn't characterize these percentages as necessarily fair," he said, "but they're all we've got."

"I'm not convinced this is a fair percentage," added Dengel. "I think the fire department should come up with something that everybody thinks is fair."

However imperfect West and the trustees may have found the formula, the village board ultimately voted for it because it needs to be approved within the month by the seven member communities so that NSFD and the communities themselves can budget for 2013. If the formula isn't unanimously approved by all the communities, it would revert to the original agreement created in 1995.

West said that, with a three-year sunset in place, the seven member communities will have ample time to come together and hash out a new formula.

"We really have to put our hands in the good faith of the other communities," he said, "and expect that we can work together."

And then came the vote.

"I'm halfheartedly and reluctantly supporting this," trustee Eric Fonstad said when he seconded West's motion to approve the formula.

"I know the feeling," replied West.

BY THE NUMBERS

Possible formula percentages:

2008-12 (current formula)approved 2013-15 formula2013-15 percentages if 1995-2005 formula used
Bayside6.246.26.32
Brown Deer17.8117.6817.87
Fox Point10.3810.319.31
Glendale27.6728.1628.72
River Hills2.962.943.01
Shorewood17.5717.4517.56
Whitefish Bay17.3717.2617.21

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