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The Lancaster City Council met for a Special Meeting to discuss fire department issues on Monday, April 7, 2014, at 4:00 P.M. in the Lancaster Fire Hall Meeting Room.  Members present were Mayor, Michael Olson; council members John Stenquist, Jim Hilman and Luke Nordin.  Mary Barron was absent.

Also present was Terry Kukowski, Fire Chief; Dave Baker, Asst. Fire Chief; Nyle Zikmund, Blaine MN with the MN Association of Nonprofit Fire Department and numerous members of the public and fire department.

The fire chief opened the meeting and turned the floor to Mr Zikmund.   Mr. Zikmund stated that he was asked by the chief to help the council and the fire department work through various issues of contention between the two parties.  He discussed how nonprofits fire departments operate in Minnesota.  Mr. Zikmund stated that the city has not been acting as if they are in charge of the fire department in so far  as they do not hold files on the fire department volunteers, but the city does insure the the fire department for workers compensation; liability etc.   He also pointed out that nonprofit fire departments are in need of funding sources (contracts with cities, townships etc.) in order to have operating capital for necessary items such as fire hall; equipment; supplies; training and insurances.  Also pointed out that the fire department does a valuable service for the community and surrounding areas. He suggested that it was in the best interest of everyone if all parties come to an understanding.

The clerk handed out the city ordinance that establishes the fire department as a part of the city.   Clerk also established that the city contracts with the townships for fire protections since 1983 and all monies have been deposited in the city fire fund.  The city pays all bills that have been presented to the council from the fire fund and purchased the 2013fire truck by way of USDA loan and fire fund monies saved for purchase of a truck.

Members of the community stated various issues that they thought needed attention.  Also, that there was no need for the Fire Department to separate from the city and become a nonprofit fire department and that the issues should be worked out and that the Fire Department remain as a division of the city as it has been before.  Former firemen stated that the fire department has always been part of the city.  The public expressed their thanks to the current and previous firemen for their services to the city residents and surrounding area.

There was discussion about an old nonprofit incorporation filing for a group called the Lancaster Volunteer Fire Department, Inc.  Jerry Bernstrom, fire chief at the time of the incorporation filing in 1987, stated that the incorporation was done in order to obtain a gambling license to raise money for the fire department relief association.   But after the nonprofit paperwork was filed it was decided not to pursue the gambling license due to all the additional paperwork and tax filings. Nothing more was done with the corporation at that time.   The clerk pointed out that the corporation was dissolved by the State of Minnesota in 2005 and that Terry Kukowski had done some paperwork to reinstate the corporation in December 2013.

Mr. Zikmund closed stating the city council is in the driver’s seat on fire department issues and that it is in the best interest of the parties to work through these issues in order to keep the fire department fully staffed and functional.

Carol Johnson, Clerk/Treasurer                         Approved:  Mike Olson, Mayor







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