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Lines are set for future control of EMS services in Darlington
Darlington EMS

DARLINGTON – The common council of the City of Darlington was called to order by Mayor David Breunig at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019.

A report from the Green County EMS (GCEMS) and Darlington Area EMS was on agenda. The future of EMS was discussed and began with Daniel Nufer chief of Green County and Darlington EMS giving comments.

Nufer was asked to speak in regard to where Darlington’s EMS was going and began by giving a brief background of the current status.

Nufer explained, “A contract was sign with Rural Medical in Aug. 2018 and renewed in Aug. 2019. The current contract extends GCEMS services in Darlington until Aug. 2020. I’m not sure where we’re headed after that point. I have mentioned the ‘retirement’ word and that makes my board nervous, they feel it will be more difficult to replace me if we are still running Darlington.”

Nufer continued, “Everything is running well; the folks in Darlington do a good job of running the service themselves, but it still makes them nervous. We pay one full-time person (service director) in Darlington and I think when the day comes that GCEMS and Darlington EMS part ways, I think it would be mandatory that one full-time paid person remain in place - to handle the day-to-day issues, scheduling, State of Wisconsin requirements, billing, etc.”

It was pointed out that the Rural Medical Board or the municipalities there-in (including Darlington) are not charged any funds. GCEMS pays for itself by charging for their services. Darlington has approximately 320 calls per year, being charged between $400 and $600 per call. In the second year volunteers are now paid $8 per call, the first year the volunteers did not get paid.  Nufer outlined how the GCEMS board is set up.

Jeff Berget representing the Darlington Area EMS volunteers spoke, “Our contention with the Darlington Area EMS organization is to broach the idea with the Rural Medical Board, looking at the possible asset acquisition. That way if and when the day comes that our relationship with Green County ends, we have a direction we can go in. The volunteer’s goal from the start is that we want to be a volunteer service.

Mark Hermanson service director of the Rural Medical Board said, “What I can tell you is we’ve had some of these discussion at some of our board meetings and the time-line I set up was to get through the holidays and after the first of the year sit down and have some conversations and I know where we’re going, they’re asking for the same thing.”

Breunig asked Berget if he was comfortable with that?

Berget answered, “I have no problem with that. Our board is just looking to broach the idea and starting talks between the two groups. I don’t want to be in the position that if GCEMS doesn’t want to be here anymore, that way there won’t be any kind of pressure. We can just sit down and talk and we can move into a smooth transition and we can keep providing top quality care for the Darlington area.”

Alder Dave Roelli said, “To go forward the Rural Medical Board and the volunteers are going to have to come to an agreement on ownership and the future after GCEMS pulls out.”

Nufer said, “I expect that will take a lot of meetings, discussions, planning and trust on both sides. At some point maybe Rural Medical will want to lease the equipment to the volunteers on a month-to-month basis and see how that goes. There are a lot of options; it’s going to take sitting down at the table, knocking some heads together and putting the past aside and figuring out what is best for the community and how do we achieve that goal for the long term.”

Alder Steve Pickett said, “I think your points are well taken. We have to come together and forget where we were and do things for the greater good.”

Berget said, “Our volunteers are not entering into this lightly. We have a lot of people with a lot of years, that have put a lot of time in this.”

Raze Order

The City of Darlington Building Inspector Mike Reuter of Wisconsin Municipal Building Inspections LLC recommended that a property owned by Chad Fenner at 810 Galena Street be razed.

Reuter began, “I’ve be working with this individual for a number of years to improve the property. He’s moved out of the area so it’s more difficult to contact him.”

According to the raze order the building is dangerous, unsafe, unsanitary and otherwise unfit for human habitation.

Reuter said, “To bring it into compliance, according to a FEMA calculator, it would cost $59,641 to fix it to be used for human habitation. The building has an assessed value of $11,800, that doesn’t include the land value. It’s on the tax roll for $29,600.

Reuter described the structure including open to the outside causing mold issues, a support beam being broken, window wood rot, gas stove heat source, safety concern with the electrical service, etc.

The property has had five property maintenance citations written on it with no response. Taxes on the dwelling have not been paid for 2017 and 2018. Reuter had concerns that if the county took the property back (and sold it), the next owner would need to know the condition of the house.

The order states the building needs to be torn down by Jan. 31, 2020.

A motion and second was made to approve the raze order – approved.

In other business:

•In a Plan Commission meeting, prior to the city council meeting, a certified survey map requested from Joseph Wiegel, Donna Wiegel, Kenneth Norgard and Rebecca Norgard was approved and sent to city council.

•At the annual Budget Meeting, also held before the regular council meeting. The budget was approved with no comment from the public, as there was no public present.

The 2020 mill rate for the city was set at $29.54 per $1000, which is down significantly, the 2019 mill rate was $34.83 per $1,000. It was explained the rate went down because of a reassessment was conducted in the city. The equalized value of the city went up from $110,641,700 in 2018 to $139,701,200 in 2019, an increase of $29,059,500.

•Discussed Mike Reuter’s scope of services.

•Approved a certified survey map request from Joseph and Donna Wiegel and Kenneth and Rebecca Norgard. This item was previously approved at the Plan Commission meeting.

•Approved the city’s 2020 salary and wage schedule.

•Approved a Christmas gift of $50 in Chamber Bucks for all city employees.

•Adopted an Ordinance 04-2019 for the City of Darlington budget and tax levy.

            •Approved paying November 2019 vouchers in the amount of $864,716.