By Gail Peckler-Dziki

correspondent

Several months ago, a committee made up of representatives from the Silver Lake Rescue Squad and Silver Lake Fire Department, residents and village board members began meeting to discuss a possible consolidation of the two emergency services agencies.

The Silver Lake Fire Department is owned by the village and the Silver Lake Rescue Squad is a private entity.

Village President Jeff Albrecht chairs the committee; Greg Gallich, Kerrie Molter, Kyle Stoxen, Rich Bosanko, Phil Johnson and MacFarland are the members, with Bill Erb as alternate.

This ad hoc committee is advisory only. The minutes from the Jan. 10 meeting note that while there is no crisis in either agency, the village should draft a long-term plan for fire and rescue in Silver Lake that would sustain quality services for the village residents and service call areas.

There is a concern, according to the meeting minutes, that long term, the present format, especially with Silver Lake Fire is unsustainable and that ultimately funding needs will exceed the village’s ability to pay for it without massive property tax hikes. The minutes also say that both agencies could always use more quality manpower, especially fire.

It was the belief of the committee that the blue print for most      successful Fire/Rescue operations has been for a joint department.

The committee also outlined six risks of maintaining the current path with no substantial changes. Equipment will age and be difficult if not impossible to replace with like quality items; service area continues to shrink, and revenue will plunge and quality members may become more difficult to find.

If slippage in services or equipment occurs, safety in the village may be impaired. Once emergency services diminish or go away, they become difficult or impossible to replace. If emergency services cannot be funded properly, the village could be at the mercy of the times because long-term viability options available now may not be available later.

Dan Gerber, president of the Silver Lake Recue Squad, spoke during citizens’ comments at the Feb. 15 regular board meeting. He expressed concern that Albrecht did not answer any of the 21 questions that came out a Silver Lake Rescue Squad meeting about the possible consolidation.

Gerber emailed those questions to Albrecht and those questions included what were the avantages to the Village of Silver, Fire Department and Rescue Squad; number of personnel on shifts, length of shifts and method of payment and chain of command.

Someone also asked, if there is a problem with the fire department, why not try and fix them first and why the village isn’t going after more business and industry.

Albrecht replied by email and a portion of what he wrote is as follows; “A vast majority of the questions that you have posed have never been discussed by the committee, much less answered.

“To answer others would be pure speculation and therefore inappropriate. Many of these questions would therefore be topics of future (and undoubtedly lengthy and in depth) discussions and, in most cases, pertinent only if Silver Lake Rescue decided to discuss merger with Silver Lake Fire.”

At the regular meeting, Gerber said it seemed like Albrecht didn’t answer the questions and it was hard to know what to expect without answers.

“We can’t agree to a consolidation unless we know the answers to these questions,” he said.

Albrecht explained that the board legally could have little discussion and make no motions, since the item is not on the agenda. He briefly explained that no answers were available, since the items had yet to be discussed by the committee. The next ad hoc committee was scheduled for Feb. 22, at 6:30 p.m. at the village hall.

 

 

 

 

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