Southern Utah News Articles
Top Stories for September 21, 2012
Volunteer firefighter incentives discussed at the Fredonia Town Council meeting
Town Clerk Carrie McDonald explained to council that the budget would not allow for the moving of the water line on the north end of 89A to accommodate the upcoming ADOT project. Other options are being explored.
The park grand opening went very well. The volleyball court is nearing completion.
The senior center coolers are here, however St. George Electric has backed out of their agreement to complete the installation. The town is now seeking licensed electrician and HVAC technicians to do the installation.
The employee health insurance plan is currently under review. The town does not want to stay with Humana.
Fredonia Town Council discussed the possibility of changing the incentive program for the volunteer fire department to try to encourage greater participation. The Fredonia Volunteer Firefighters consulted with some of the other departments in the area to determine what types of incentives are being offered.
McDonald stated she had spoken with the town attorney, who said, “It is really, really, really important we stay away from treating them like employees.”
She explained there is quite a bit of gray area there and the town must be careful to protect itself legally.
It was recommended the department form a nonprofit organization or 501(c)3. The logistics of budgeting and other issues were discussed if it were to become a nonprofit.
Jennifer Lukus asked what the issue would be to simply double the amount of the stipend currently given to the volunteer firefighters.
McDonald replied the problem occurs when requirements are placed on the volunteers to receive those stipends. “That’s where it gets a little hairy,” she stated.
Mayor Mackelprang asked if the volunteers felt doubling the stipend from $25 per month to $50 per month would be a benefit to them.
Fire Chief Harris Allen explained that although the firefighters are volunteers, they devote many hours to the department. He did not know if doubling it would encourage new volunteers to join.
Mayor Mackelprang said the whole point of the conversation is to try to encourage new members. He would like to make sure that whatever decision they make reaches that goal, and also helps with retention.
Chief Allen stated he would really like to see more people join. He informed the council that it is a lot of fun. They have in- house training and they get to go to fire schools. He said most people are a little nervous when they join, but then really enjoy being on it, and he would like to keep it that way.
Mayor Mackelprang stated he would like to see volunteers stay five to seven years. He discussed the possibility of requiring them to pay back their training if they did not fulfill a certain amount of time obligation.
Dixon Spendlove suggested tiered incentives, such as after six months they receive a radio, another six months a Fredonia Fire Department jacket or something of that nature. That way if they leave, the town is not out a lot of money. “The longer they stay, they’re going to get a lot of items that might be useful to them,” said Spendlove.
Council member Alvin Johnson expressed this suggestion would make more sense than trying to establish a nonprofit organization.
Chief Allen agreed this would be more feasible than a nonprofit or fire district, because the volunteers all have full time jobs. They already devote countless hours, and a fire district/nonprofit would require a full time commitment.
Mayor Mackelprang requested the volunteer firefighters sit down and discuss what type of tiered plan would work best for them.
He expressed his appreciation for the current volunteers, and explained he would like to see them rewarded as well, “I’d like to make sure we keep the guys we have, because we’ve got a great fire department.”
Mayor Mackelprang said he felt everyone in the community should give back. “The way I feel since 1988 when Paul McCormick came to me and said, ‘you’ve got to give back to your community.’ Well, I’ve been doing this since 1988. I’ve put my time in. I’m ready to be done. But the end of the day is each person in this community should give something back to the community they live and raise their kids in.”
The firefighters asked the council if town employees were allowed to be on the department. The council confirmed they can, but it is a personal decision for each.
A work meeting will be held to discuss firefighter incentives further.
The staff structure in the absence of a town manager was then discussed. The town attorney had expressed his concern about the structure because of the way the town code is set up. He feels the town must designate someone as the “manager.”
Council member Jennifer Lukus had spoken with the League of Arizona Cities and Towns. The representative told her, “In the absence of a town manager, the clerk takes over. Because you can’t go council - employees, there still has to be another person there. You still have to have that structure.”
Mayor Mackelprang stated, “When I was the mayor prior with the town, basically everything went pretty much through the clerk.”
McDonald replied, “I get that and I understand that, I just want to make sure everybody understands. Because it doesn’t seem as clear in other places. So I think we need to make that statement.”
“What we may have to do is change our code to remove the town manager’s position out of our code,” said Mayor Mackelprang.
Lukus suggested instead adding something to the code stating, “in the absence of a town manager, the town clerk will have those duties.” That way, if they choose to hire another town manager in the future, the code will not have to be changed again.
Council member Tony Zaccaria explained the current code states that. However, he had not seen the codification, so did not know if the verbiage was retained.
Dixon Spendlove was present to discuss the proposed museum contract. McDonald explained the proposed $1.00 per year for rent, “The reason that was so cheap was that he would only seek donations from visitors and not an entry fee.”
Spendlove reiterated his desire to repay the town as soon as possible, hopefully within two to three years. Supervisor Carl Taylor would like to provide some assistance, but there are limitations because of the Repatriation Act.
Tentatively, the lease agreement will be for 10 years. It can be renewed or terminated, if requested by either party.
The final budget was presented for approval. It is the same as the preliminary budget that had been presented in June. The council unanimously approved the Town of Fredonia 2012/2013 budget.
The disposal of port-a-potty waste in the lagoons was then discussed. Public Works Director Ken Bistline informed the council that ADEQ recommended amending the current permit to allow for the disposal, which would cost approximately $10,000. Bistline looked into other options, including the use of compatible chemicals.
The other concern is the garbage included in the dumping that is not breaking down. The problem is that it does not go through a grinder.
According to council member Johnson, in the past when the road was too muddy for dumping, the trucks dumped into the sewer manhole, which flows through a grinder. He wondered if this would be a possibility now.
A representative from RD Enterprises explained that the rate of flow when dumping causes the manhole to back up, so this would not be a good long-term solution. He stated the company was more than willing to comply with the request to use a compatible chemical.
Bistline suggested possibly setting up another grinder. He will research this option.
There will be a Canyonlands Community Health Fair in October. They would like to raffle off bikes at the fair and are requesting a donation from the town. The council unanimously approved the donation of $150 to the Canyonlands Community Health Fair to purchase two bikes for the raffle.
The Fredonia Magistrate approached the council to request the appointment of another Pro Tempore. She stated that Wayne Anderson had moved and Brian Hilding would be leaving with the resignation of Kelly Hilding. Brian will be here until November, but it was necessary to get someone hired.
She stated Carl Hughes would be a good choice because he has completed several trainings and is currently the pro tempore at the Fredonia Justice Court and the Page Justice Court. His training would save the town quite a bit of money. The council unanimously approved the appointment of Hughes as the Fredonia Magistrate Pro Tempore.
The council unanimously accepted the resignation of Kelly Hilding, with her last day of employment being October 4. The council requested the position be advertised.