Lynne Hermansen
Special to The Gardner News
Fire District 1 held their first board meeting in their new fire house February 8 in Edgerton.
Dennis Meyers, chief, said it was a breath of a fresh air to be in their new home.
Despite a couple of issues with poor cell phone and radio reception in areas of the building, Meyers said the good news is the building is built really well.
“Nothing comes in,” he said.
Meyers said they were working around some of the cell and radio issues, but they can still receive calls, however the $50,000 potential cost of fixing it wasn’t in the current budget.
The fire station opened  February 15 and a ribbon cutting is planned for March.
“We are still short lockers and bunks, but it won’t stop us from opening,” he said.
Meyers said they will have full temporary occupancy and had passed city inspections, but a few tweaks with some cosmetic exceptions still had to be made.
“It’s been pretty painless,” he said.
Meyers read the January 2022 financial report for the department and said they were up to speed with everything, and it was looking good.
The first tax payment had been made to the county, they had received a first quarter payment of $600,000 from Fire District 2 and the first bond payment had been made, he said.
Meyers said they had to republish the money from Fire District 2 within the year, but there wasn’t a hurry.
“We will show expenditures with two again within our percentages,” he said. “And you can see some items are over budget because we had to pre-buy for the firehouse.”
Ron Conus, board member, said he had seen a line item added for a contract with Johnson County and wanted to know if it was a monthly expense.
Meyers said it was a monthly agreement with the county that would be reimbursed.
Conus said would the $6 million plus exceed the budget authority.
Meyers said it was why they had to republish on request of the county.
“We are waiting until the numbers were correct,” he said. “We have until the end of the year to republish, but we would prefer sooner.”
Keith Johnson, board member, said how would they know what overtime would be already.
Meyers said they estimate the overtime.
“It will be real close to what we estimate and we over-republish,” he said. “It doesn’t affect the mill levy or collections and we will make sure the numbers are solid.”
Meyers said Covid had hit the department very hard with over 20 staff members, and they had to shut down for two weeks in January.
850 hours with people off duty had occurred, he said but extra staff and shift workers and covered some of the hours.
“It is good we had extra people,” he said. “But keep an eye out on overtime.”
Meyers said they were also working with District 2 for an agreement with off duty paramedics and fire medics willing to come in and work part time to cover the paramedic side of operations.
“We would like to look at the next board meeting bringing back part time employees to cover paramedics,” he said.
Conus said would they have to be certified the same as full time employees, and Randy Gregoryck, board member, said would length of tenure have any factor.
They would have to have the same certification and five to ten years of experience with gear which would be zero cost for the department, Meyers said.

Other business:
The $72,000 purchase for a new Ford 2022 F350 DRW 4X4 Super Chassis with fully equipped flat bed and snowplow was approved.
Meyers said they would be moving $80,000 over from the purchasing equipment fund for the one time truck purchase.
“We found one truck in the KC area that meets our specifications,” he said. “If we don’t purchase it we will have to wait until Fall 2022 to order.”
Meyers said he hated bringing it up without enough time to think about it, but they had found out at the last minute.
“We should go ahead and get the truck locked down,” he said.
Meyers said they should gain from the trade in of their old utility vehicle.
A concern with David Wolff from Fire District 2 was also raised.
Meyers said he currently serves on boards for Gardner Township and the SW Economic and Development Zoning Boards which goes against their policy.
“You can’t run for elected positions,” he said. “But he has been doing this for 19 years.”
Meyers said he would need to abstain from certain votes.
Johnson said how do they decide what all effects them and should consider other items.
“A lot of things effect us,” he said.
Meyers said he had asked for conflict examples from the past, and the only one Wolff had cited was a $9,000 vote for help with EMS.
“I can check with him again,” he said. “I hate to pull it away from him after 19 years.”
Connie Schmidt, board member, said they could clarify again and look at grandfathering him in as one special case.
“I thank him for being upfront and proactive with us,” she said.
Mark Burdolski, board chair, said he wanted to thank Keith Johnson, board member, for his 30 years of service.
The meeting ended with board members and those in attendance of the meeting receiving an extensive tour of the new fire station.