Medford City Council Study Session
August 5, 2014
The meeting was called to order at 6:00 p.m. in the Carnegie Building, Medford, with the following members present.
Mayor Gary Wheeler; Councilmembers John Michaels, Daniel Bunn, Tim Jackle, Bob Strosser, Chris Corcoran, Dick Gordon
Jackson County Fire District #2 Members: Duane Venekamp, Dan Marcisz, Bob Sheets, Jack Tait.
1. ESCI Cooperative Services Study: Mr. Swanson addressed the group and noted that the attendees have been given a hard copy of the staff recommendations, equipment listing, the current agreement with Fire District #2, a listing of apparatus, and emergency response by zone report. He introduced Deputy Chief Brian Fish and Deputy Chief Justin Bates. Deputy Chief Fish noted on the emergency response sheet, this lists the responses into the rural district for a twelve month period. He reviewed the itemized listing of apparatus which outlines the replacement schedule. He spoke to the documentation of the Fire District #2 contribution to the City of Medford. He addressed the staff recommendations and reviewed how these recommendations were developed. He noted that the operations group and fire marshals groups got together to discuss potential opportunities. He reviewed the staff recommendations from the June 22, 2014 memo to the Mayor and City Council.
Mr. Swanson noted that the next step is that staff will be seeking Council direction regarding moving forward with the four bullet points on the memo at the August 21, 2014 Council meeting.
Mr. Marcisz expressed concern regarding Fire District #2 not being able to provide feedback during the process of the study. He noted the study indicates that the entities should look at consolidation but that staff is not supporting that recommendation. He noted it appears that steps are being recommended that would make unification a possibility at a later date.
Councilmember Michaels noted that steps are being recommended to look at opportunities and that a future Council could make a decision regarding unification, but that is not what the current Council is considering.
Deputy Chief Fish spoke to the information gained during this study and that unification could be looked at in the future. Staff is making recommendations regarding opportunities for efficiencies that could be reviewed at this time.
Mr. Marcisz noted that Fire Dist. #2 is concerned that Fire Dist. #3 and the City are discussing issues that would affect Fire Dist. #2 but Fire Dist. #2 is not a part of the conversation.
Mr. Sheets spoke to the missed communication that has occurred for fifteen months and that Fire Dist. #2 has not been able to get answers to their questions. He stated that the data in the study is questionable and that intergovernmental agreements were entered into by the City with no input from Fire District #2.
Councilmember Michaels noted that the Council is interested in discussing the apparatus issue as Fire Dist. #2 has purchased items and they need replaced. He questioned if the members of Fire Dist. #2 had any concerns regarding the replacement schedule as detailed on the handout.
Mr. Swanson noted the current agreement with Fire Dist. #2 speaks to the City providing the manpower and facilities and Fire Dist. #2 loaning their apparatus to the City. The listing of apparatus shows what is in the fleet, which agency purchased the apparatus and the anticipated replacement schedule. He noted that the City will be looking at the City budget for capital purchases separate from any purchases made by Fire Dist. #2.
Councilmembers and participants discussed the apparatus issue. Councilmember Bunn noted that at the previous Fire Dist. #2 board meeting, the board voted to no longer purchase equipment. Mr. Tait noted that motion was based on the outcome of the ESCI study and the settlement of this issue. Councilmember Bunn noted he felt this issue needs to be addressed by the Council as a policy issue in the next budget process.
Mr. Sheets noted he feels this issue needs to be looked at as Fire Dist. #2 has seen a decrease in the percent of responses from 10% to 7% and wondered why the City is not increasing the funding for fire services.
Mr. Marcisz noted that the Fire Dist. #2 board has been frustrated by this process, they would like to move forward and maintain the existing relationship. They feel they are getting the best service for the funds they have available.
Mayor Wheeler reviewed the apparatus replacement schedule, spoke to the current contract which expires in 2018 and that this issue has time to be worked through. He stated he feels both parties need to settle this issue and have a clear plan for the future needs.
Councilmember Michaels noted he feels the equipment purchase muddies the contract and would prefer that the City own its own equipment. Then a separate agreement for services with Fire Dist. #2 would be clearer.
Councilmember Bunn noted he feels that Fire Dist. #2 is paying too much for equipment, and he also wants the City to own its own apparatus.
Mr. Sheets noted he felt that this could be negotiated.
Councilmember Jackle noted he would not want the City to have to go out and buy a bunch of equipment and that this could be addressed with clearer language in the agreement.
Councilmember Michaels suggested that the Fire staff look at this issue and bring back options for how to move forward.
Mayor Wheeler spoke to the agreement needing to be readdressed and questioned if the Fire Dist. #2 board feels that the City has not performed per the agreement. Fire Dist. #2 boardmembers stated that the services have been provided as per the agreement.
Councilmember Gordon spoke to the future annexations of Fire Dist. #2 properties with the growth of the City. As we look to the future with the decrease of Fire Dist. #2 property and tax base, the agreement will need to be adjusted.
Mr. Marcisz noted that Fire Dist. #2 does not want to get out of the ownership of the apparatus but needs a well-defined plan for management of the apparatus.
Councilmember Michaels noted he feels the City should own the apparatus and doesn’t like the strings that are attached with Fire Dist. #2 owning the apparatus.
Mr. Tait noted that the Fire Dist. #2 board does not have an issue with how the City utilizes the apparatus but is concerned with where the apparatus is housed at the end of the clock. Providing mutual aid is not a problem but the apparatus needs to be housed in a Medford fire house.
Councilmember Corcoran noted that the ownership issue is a long-term discussion and would like to know what needs addressed tonight. He feels things are moving forward, the City Manager has been given direction to hire a new Fire Chief and he wanted to know what Fire Dist. #2 needs to move forward.
Mr. Sheets noted that Medford Fire Chief is the Fire Chief for the District as well, this person needs to represent both parties and all the District is asking for is openness and communication.
Mr. Marcisz noted that he would like to hold on moving forward until the new Fire Chief is hired. He also requested that Fire Dist. #2 participate in the hiring process as the City’s Fire Chief is also the Districts Fire Chief.
Councilmember Corcoran noted that hiring of staff is the responsibility and authority of the City Manager. Mr. Swanson noted that staff is moving forward with the hiring and that the recommendations from staff will be handled by the new Fire Chief.
Councilmember Bunn noted he would like the new Fire Chief to look at the apparatus as part of the new contract.
Councilmember Corcoran expressed confidence in the City Manager’s ability to hire a competent Fire Chief and he would recommend another joint meeting in six months with Fire Dist. #2.
Meeting adjourned at 7:06 p.m.