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Dousman still seeking fire district payment plan

Fire districts consolidated; 2013 budget approved

Nov. 14, 2012

Village of Dousman - Although the consolidation of the Summit and Dousman fire districts was formally approved with the adoption of a 2013 budget recently, Dousman village officials have not yet decided how they will pay for their share of the cost. For the first year, the cost will go on the 2013 village budget.

Village President Jack Nissen said an agreement between the village and the Masonic Lodge calling for a payment in lieu taxes (PILOT) from the Three Pillars Senior Community will not be completed in time for the adoption of the village's 2013 budget.

The PILOT is intended to pay for a portion of the $56,000 in additional fire and emergency services cost the village will incur during the initial year of the consolidation. The new fire district will serve the villages of Dousman and Summit and the Town of Ottawa with the exception of the southeast corner of Ottawa which will be protected by the North Prairie Fire Department.

Nissen and village trustees have emphasized that the village will experience long-term cost savings as a result of the consolidation even though fire and emergency medical services costs increase by about $56,000 in 2013.

Some of those costs are attributed to the number of emergency responses the newly consolidated department will make to the senior center which is a nonprofit entity exempt from paying real estate taxes that normally help emergency service costs.

Nissen said he and the owners of Three Pillars have reached a tentative agreement that includes the PILOT but the amount of the PILOT and other terms of the agreement are being reviewed by attorneys.

The PILOT, once it is adopted, will reimburse the revenue source used to pay the additional $56,000.

Nissen added the village's state-imposed real estate levy limit of about $762,000 would be increased by about $56,000 because the village is incurring additional costs as result of a service-sharing agreement with other municipalities.

Meanwhile, the Village of Summit and the Town of Ottawa may have their state-imposed levy limit reduced, according to the state law, because they have incurred lower expenses as a result of the shared fire services agreement.

Dousman's ability to spend beyond the levy limit was nearly a source of controversy at a recent meeting when the villages of Dousman and Summit and the Town of Ottawa approved the $975,000 operating budget, $600,000 of which is paid by the three municipalities.

Summit will contribute $327,000. Dousman will pay about $139,000 and Ottawa will contribute about $134,000.

Summit officials had been told that Dousman's levy limit could not be increased without the approval of Summit and Ottawa.

Summit village trustees had crafted a motion that approved Dousman increasing its levy limit on the condition that Summit's reduced levy limit would be allowed to increase in 2014 and in future years.

However, Nissen told the Summit officials during the budget meeting that he was told by state officials that Dousman's levy limit could be increased without the approval of Ottawa and Summit. He convinced them to adopt the 2013 budget without conditions.

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