As of Tuesday, August 7, 2018
DALLAS — Officials with the city of Dallas will negotiate with Southwest Polk Rural Fire Protection District after the district proposed a vastly shorter administrative services contract with the city.
Administrators with Dallas Fire & EMS provide Southwest with management services based on a contract between the city and the district. The previous contract was for 10 years and ended in July.
Southwest proposed a renewal of the arrangement, but for one year and with an exit clause that allows the contract to end the contract with a six-month notice.
Currently, the exit clause requires a year notice.
The district had been paying $440,000 for administration services in the previous contract, which is in effect until a new one is approved. The city and district have had a contract in place for nearly seven decades.
Southwest’s proposal is to pay $475,000 for the one-year contract.
City Manager Greg Ellis said Sheridan Fire and West Valley Fire District have begun the process of consolidation, and that may play a part in the change in the contract.
“Sheridan has stopped all discussions with Dallas. They are actually talking to Southwest. Southwest is trying to get into that coalition between West Valley and Sheridan,” Ellis said during a work shop meeting Monday evening. “Southwest is also talking to Polk No. 1.”
Ellis said Dallas Fire Chief Fred Hertel, who also serves as the chief for Southwest, has been excluded from meetings between Southwest and other fire agencies. Ellis said the city needs to consider what would happen if Southwest decided to end the contract with less than a year notice. He said another consideration is money. Southwest proposed to pay $475,000 in 2018-19 while it is estimated to bring in $502,148 in revenue. Ellis said the district has had to dip into reserves for operating costs in the past.
The city would lose contract revenue for the portion of the year after the contract ended. He said $236,000 of the contract is in personnel, with Southwest paying for a percentage of certain Dallas Fire & EMS administrators’ salaries and the full salary of one administrative assistant. “I look at it as we would have to scramble to find some way to adapt to that $236,000 going away,” Ellis said.
The council asked Ellis to try to renegotiate the contract with Southwest and explore options for including Dallas in consolidation talks. Councilor Bill Hahn said the city needs to counteroffer at least a one-year separation clause to prevent sudden budget changes.
Hahn said there’s another possibility for the district and Dallas that wouldn’t require use of Southwest’s reserves. He said the city of Salem and Salem Suburban Fire District have an agreement in which Salem Suburban transfers its revenue each year in exchange for fire protection services from Salem. A similar arrangement could be established with Southwest and Dallas.