Arguments heated up surrounding fire department fund distribution at Monday’s County Commissioners meeting.
Before the meeting was called to order, attendees gathered in groups to argue their side of the issue. It was a full house and nearly everyone was watiting for the same agenda item.
The first item on the agenda was the transfer of funds to General and Health, which the board approved. The commissioners approved the resolution to junk a copier from District 1.
The board approved the utility relocation in regard to the Wickliffe Creek Bridge.
Finally, Alva Martin introduced the agenda item everyone was waiting for.
“I’m still of the opinion that we need to start the fire departments out with $3,000 base pay. Then use the number of runs monthly to determine from there,” said Alva Martin, District 1 County Commissioner.
“We don’t have the authority to do that,” said Ryan Ball, Disttict 3 County Commissioner.
“I’ve visited with the attornies and they say we can do this. And the resolution says we can,” said Martin.
District 2 County Commissioner Darrell Yoder sided with Martin, saying he understands the resolution gives the commissioners that power.
“It’s not working the way it is. If this plan isn’t approved, I would rather take it back to a vote of the people that see it stay the way it is,” said Martin.
“This won’t fix the problem. This board’s job is to make sure the fire board is formed and functioning,” said Ball.
Yoder gave Ball a copy of the resolution, asking him to explain how he interprets it. Martin pointed out that the resolution mentions fairness.
“If anyone needed to know everything about this issue, they would have gone to the resolution. Like I said, the attorney is behind us. We’re good to go,” said Martin.
“You guys are ok to do this. Our opinion is that it can be done,” said Tim Wantland, assistant district attorney. “How to do it is your call.”
“These departments are driven by people. The money came along and made it easier. I still feel like it’s unfair,” said Ball. “On the ballot, they voted for equal distribution.”
The commissioners discussed the defintion of a fire run, and the question of fire logs. Martin suggested the fire board needs to meet and determine the definition of a run, before money can be distributed based on number of runs.
“I agree. We’ve not known until today that there is a fire board. They need to meet regularly,” said Disney City Attorney Harlan Pinkerton. “The way I understand it, this board cannot vote to make this change. The fire board needs to make a reccomendation. Only then can the commissioners act on that reccomendation.”
Martin made the motion to redistribute the fire funds, giving each department $3,000 base pay and a monthly dispersement.
“It’s easy to throw this idea out there, but there is way too much confusion even at this level.” said Ball. “This is too radical.”
“No offense, but your motion is diometrically conflicting to itself,” said Pinkerton “You want to approve a motion to distribute money based on number of runs, but you don’t yet have a definition of what constitutes a run.”
“If the fire board has a problem making this decision, I’ll do it for them,” said Martin.
Pinkerton stated that the town of Disney hasn’t been given any notice of fire board meetings. Pryor Fire Chief Tim Thompson said that e-mails are sent out announcing the meetings, but there has not had a lot of participation.
Yoder seconded Martin’s motion. Ball voted no.
The motion was passed to be in effect at the first of the year.
The fire fund is from state sales tax. The one-quarter cent appropriation has been distributed evenly between county fire departments until now.
The board discussed bids for a generator for Salina Fire Department. The bid was awarded to Clifford Fire Systems.
The board opened and discussed the possible awarding of six-month road material bids. After reviewing all of the bids, the board voted to table them.
The commissioners voted to approve the proposed action concerning the Incarceration/Detention Service Agreement with Cherokee Nation Marshall Service.
They concluded the meeting with the approval of a utility corssing, claims for payment, and blanket purchase orders.