Chiefs keep pressure on county
Rural fire chiefs addressed commissioners Monday for the third time in a month, pleading for county funding of new 800 MHz radios after an audit found $14.7 million unencumbered cash, of which $3 million was unallocated.
“I saw the paper came out with the audit report information, and I have some questions,” Lincolnville fire chief Lester Kaiser said.
Kaiser pointed out that the capital improvement fund has $5 million and suggested radios as a fitting project.
“What’s there is just for roads,” county clerk Tina Spencer said. “It is not authorized for other uses.”
She said the money can be transferred back into the general fund.
“Why are you coming now when we’ve been after this for two to three years?” chairman Randy Dallke asked
“Because the project didn’t start until we had the meeting with the fire chiefs and with the public and with the governing bodies, and at that time you said, ‘We don’t have the money to help you,’” Kaiser said.
Lost Springs fire chief Brad Pagenkopf said county officials previously said the county would help financially during a discussion after a burn resolution meeting.
USDA grant money might go away if the county helps fund the radios, Spencer said.
Pagenkopf said two of the seven districts, including his, received no grant funding.
Dianne Novak said she wants to reduce the overall cost by purchasing fewer radios.
She said EMS is purchasing 68 radios for its personnel, including volunteers, so fire districts would not need radios for people who receive them through EMS.
Kaiser said extra radios are necessities, just like extra hoses and gear.
Dallke suggested the county could make a zero-percent loan to fire districts without enough money.
Kaiser said other counties, including Harvey and Riley, have covered the cost of similar projects.
“We don’t have the money that they’re talking about, Lester,” Dallke said. “They’ve got wild dreams.”
Last modified Sept. 28, 2017