Lannon-Menomonee Falls fire merger pending

Published on: 3/5/2013

Lannon - The villages of Lannon and Menomonee Falls are expected to adopt similar resolutions this month that will formalize 18 months of negotiations between officials of the two communities that could lead to either shared fire services between the communities or a consolidation of the fire departments.

The resolution is expected to be presented to the Lannon Village Board at its March 11 meeting and to the Menomonee Falls Village Board the following week, according to village officials.

The adoption of the resolutions will affirm that the elected trustees in both villages endorse the idea of a fire service agreement between two communities and the continuation of negotiations, Lannon Village President Jerry Newman said.

A tentative agreement has been reached regarding an operational structure for a consolidated department and how some, or all, of Lannon's equipment and apparatus would be incorporated into the Menomonee Falls department, Newman said.

Working out details

Newman said the issues of how the communities would share funding of a consolidated department or agreement, how the department would be governed, and how the village of Lannon will be reimbursed for assets it contributes to the Menomonee Falls department, including fire equipment and apparatus, have yet to be resolved.

Newman said future negotiations may determine whether the Lannon department is consolidated or merged with the Menomonee Falls Department or whether Menomonee Falls might provide contractual fire and medical emergency services to Lannon which might later dissolve its fire department.

Newman said which one of several options adopted by the Lannon Village Board is likely to depend upon which option provides the best level of service to the village at the most economical cost.

"It will all depend upon the mathematics, how the dollar figures work out," he said.

Newman acknowledged he is not yet sure what voice, if any, the village will have in the operations of the department.

"They are about 30 times bigger than us," he quipped.

The Lannon department has a budget of about $190,000 with approximately 35 volunteers who are paid a stipend each time they respond to a call.

The Menomonee Falls department has a budget of $2.9 million with 14 full-time firefighters, 24 firefighters who are paid part time, and 85 volunteers who are paid each time they respond to call or are on duty during overnight hours.

Newman anticipates the consolidation could save the village of Lannon about $1.5 million which is the estimated cost for either remodeling the existing Village Hall fire station or constructing a new station, possibly at a different location.

Served by new stations

Instead of the Lannon station, Newman anticipates that village residents will be served by two new stations being built by the Menomonee Falls department, one at Main Street and Menomonee Avenue and the other on Silver Spring Drive near One Mile Road.

Newman is also optimistic that future operating and other capital costs for the village will be reduced as a result of the consolidation.

However, Newman acknowledged that so far there has been no agreement on how much the village will be expected to contribute to the new department.

Menomonee Falls officials said the consolidation will enable them to provide faster response times to residents living in the western quadrant of the village, some of whom are presently served by the Lannon department.

So far, most of the negotiations have been conducted privately between Newman, Falls Village Administrator Mark Fitzgerald and department directors with limited contributions from the elected officials in either community. Any final agreement will have to be approved by both village boards. The resolution will authorize Newman to continue the negotiations on behalf of the Village Board.

Consolidation negotiations in most other Lake Country communities have been open to the public and included active participation of elected officials. Those communities included the villages of Chenequa, Dousman, Nashotah, Oconomowoc Lake, Summit and the towns of Ottawa and Delafield along with the cities of Oconomowoc and Delafield.