Service agreements with municipalities to be renegotiated

Lisa Goudy
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Moose Jaw Fire Department chief Rod Montgomery delivers his request for executive to approve the department to renegotiate fire service agreements with municipalities it serves at the Dec. 16, 2013 executive committee meeting.

Executive authorized the fire department to renegotiate fire service agreements.

“Under our current agreements, there is little investment from the R.M.s (rural municipalities), resort villages and the villages. The City of Moose Jaw assumes most of the liability with little benefit to our taxpayers,” said Moose Jaw Fire Department (MJFD) chief Rod Montgomery. “The taxpayers of Moose Jaw pay to have a modern, well-trained fire department in a state of constant readiness to respond to emergencies in the City of Moose Jaw. The present service agreements provide less than one per cent of the fire department budget.

“The value of these agreements provides little relief to the taxpayers of Moose Jaw. However, they are of enormous value to the R.M.s, resort villages and the villages.”

Montgomery made his recommendation in a presentation to executive committee at Monday’s meeting. The recommendation was carried unanimously.

Currently, the MJFD has service agreements with five R.M.s, six villages and three resort villages.

According to the provincial government municipal directory, the population of Moose Jaw is 33,274 with an assessed value of $1.18 billion. The total population covered under the agreements, with the exception of Caron and Caronport, is 3,583 with an assessed value of $569.53 million.

For 2013, the fire department budget was approved at $6.03 million. The department collected $49,132 in annual fees in 2013.

The MJFD has agreements with the RMs of Baildon, Marquis, Pense, Hillsborough, Belle Plaine, Briercrest, Drinkwater and Tuxford. All pay annual fees based on $5 multiplied by how many people live in the municipality. Further, the RMs pay $1 multiplied by the number of responses exceeding five in the previous year also multiplied by how many people live in the municipality.

The annual fee for Pens is calculated the same way, but they are charged only 50 per cent since the volunteer fire department covers the area from 6 p.m. to 8 a.m. The R.M. of Caron and Caronport don’t pay an annual fee.

South Lake, Sun Valley and North Grove, the resort villages, pay a flat fee of $1,000 each per year.

The service agreements were mostly signed from 1995 to 2002, except for Pense where the agreement is dated 2008.

Montgomery said North Battleford just signed an agreement with the R.M. of North Battleford for an annual fee of $150,000 plus a response fee. Regina also signed an agreement for $170,000 this year and possibly more than $1 million in four years.

“The standard response from the MJFD is to all the communities with the agreement is typically the four by four one ton truck and engine five pumper truck. This truck was custom built to respond to the R.M.s, villages and resort villages,” said Montgomery.

He said the pumper truck carries 2,000 Imperial gallons of water. Replacement of the truck would cost approximately $675,000. The value of the one-ton truck is $49,100. Regarding equipment on both trucks, it is worth $50,000.

Montgomery added if the contracts were terminated, the city would lose $50,000 per year.

“I think from the chief’s comments, we can all realize some of the impact, I guess. Residents in Moose Jaw have invested heavily in fire service,” said Mayor Deb Higgins. “I think if we are going to go into agreements with other communities who are in need of fire service and if it’s a service Moose Jaw can provide, that’s great, but I think we also have to be adequately compensated for the investment that taxpayers in Moose Jaw have made in a professional fire service.”

Coun. Heather Eby said the presentation was “very timely.”

“The numbers show that we’re the poor kid on the block. I don’t think the R.M. is going to jump for joy to see that,” added Coun. Brian Swanson. “I’ll support the motion.”

Follow Lisa Goudy on Twitter @lisagoudy.

Organizations: R.M.s, Moose Jaw Fire Department

Geographic location: Moose Jaw, Caronport, North Battleford Hillsborough Belle Plaine South Lake Sun Valley North Grove

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