Cologne council mulls plan for fire equipment

Cologne council members considered options for budgeting for future fire equipment purchases. (Adam Gruenewald/The Times)

by Adam Gruenewald
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With aging equipment and necessary upgrades requiring funds, Cologne Fire Chief Chuck Joos presented an initial plan to council members during their regular meeting on Monday, July 17.
The preliminary long-range plan, which could start with a first response unit costing $75,000 in 2017, extends out to 2047 with the replacement of a 2005 engine for an estimated $1 million.
“This was pushed to the wayside with the downturn in the economy,” said Joos.
Joos underlined that the long-range plan presented is tentative.
“The captains claim I’m conservative on it and want it shorter and more increases, but we need a starting point,” he said.
While he did not make a formal request for funds, Joos did ask that the city meet with the townships and also include the fire department in budget workshops in the future.
“As opposed to giving you a number, we don’t have a clue what you have got set up for replacement for public works and where we fit,” he said. “We would like to be included in that group and work on city assets together.”
Joos said that in the past the Cologne Fire Department has applied for and received several grants from FEMA and other government sources, even receiving a grant in 2004 for an engine, but funds are running dry.
“I don’t believe Cologne has a chance at getting another one,” he said. “I think our luck has run out.”
Looking ahead, the first response unit remains the immediate priority for 2017, but there are several equipment vehicles that will be more than 30, or even 40 years old under the replacement schedule.
“They are getting harder and harder to get parts for,” he said, highlighting a 1985 tanker, a 1984 tanker and a 1989 engine among other vehicles. “They’ve outlived their use as far as the technology on them. They still run and are road worthy.”
While council members took no official action on the equipment request, they said they would have city staff pursue options and meetings with the townships.
Council members did approve seven new fire department emails incorporating chiefs, captains, officers and secretary for a total of 10 at the cost of $4 each per email per month.
In other news, council members affirmed their final offer for the Klein property in town.
As reported earlier, council members put in an initial $280,000 bid on June 5 for the 4.25-acre property located at 401 Benton Street with the intent of acquiring the property and working with the Carver County Community Development Agency for a senior housing development.
While the appraisal, city offer and various discussions have been during closed sessions, they voted 4-1 in favor of restating their final offer.
Council member Kyle Evenski voted against the bid, restating his position that perhaps there are better opportunities available.
“We can find something that’s beneficial for another amount,” he said. “Let’s find property or land that we can utilize in different ways.”
Council member Don Meyer was in favor of submitting the final offer.
“Let’s make our high offer the firm offer… and tell them were not going up anymore,” he said. “Down the road they can make contact with us… we are going out looking for other properties.”
Cologne council members also heard from resident Art Bickford who proposed a dog park for the city expressing their support and go-ahead to Bickford and others to pursue different options for location and costs, approved pay request #9 in the amount of $339,675.95 to DiMar Construction for the water treatment plant and reviewed a potential employee recognition policy that would have a fund of $1,000 to be replenished annually if needed.
The Cologne City Council will next meet at 7 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 7.
Follow Adam Gruenewald on Twitter @adamgruenewald.