On Monday evening, Board representatives from the towns of Lima, Milton, Johnstown, and Harmony gathered to discuss the possibility of uniting to form a four-town fire department. The main topics of discussion were if the four towns should come together to create a new fire department to serve their communities, and whether or not to join the Edgerton fire district. If either of these are agreed upon, the available firefighting resources available to each town would be greatly increased, as well as those available to their surrounding areas. Most of the evening was spent clearing up statements between Board members to make sure everyone in attendance was on the same page.
To create the new station, the cost would be split between the four towns evenly. If they instead decide to join the Edgerton fire district, all the towns would be pooling their firefighting resources to contribute, while also receiving firefighting services already in use by Edgerton. Some in attendance were concerned of the costs being passed down to taxpayers unevenly when population size was considered, but it was noted that joining the Edgerton fire district would be the most economic way to achieve their goal.
A big talking point for the evening was cost of the overall project. Many wanted a solid estimate of the total cost the taxpayers would have to give. It was explained that in this stage of discussion, an accurate estimate cannot be provided when taking costs and fees from engineering and the transition between systems into account. However, it was mentioned that the towns have the option to take a loan on the cost of the project, with some repayment options not beginning until 2023.
While this is not the first time Board members have met to weigh their options, it was noted that talks are almost in completion. Now, the Boards are just waiting for commitment from those participating to begin the project. The Town of Milton was said to be fully on board with completely joining the Edgerton fire district, with the others feeling they should be ready to commit after one more meeting.
At the end of the night, the many Boards seemed positive about moving forward. Those involved mentioned planning public meetings to address the concerns of their constituents, primarily those concerning how tax dollars are being spent. It was stressed that the Boards should make their decisions soon, as the Milton Fire Commission will be under no obligation to cover these towns in 2022. There was a financial incentive to speed up the process as well, as many of the Boards want to be able to work this plan into next years budgets, which they are currently working on.
The next meeting was planned for Thursday, September 2nd, with the plans possibly being voted on.