Fire contract renewed

By Andy McMurray

Flames erupting from buildings on the NIU campus or in Cortland will be extinguished by the DeKalb Fire Department under a continued agreement passed Monday night.

The DeKalb Fire Department will be paid $102,850 for fire protection and $13,951 for ambulance services by the DeKalb Fire Protection District. The agreement is retroactive to Aug. 1, 2004 and expires July 31.

From Aug. 1, 2005, to July 31, 2006, the amounts increase to $106,964 for fire services and $14,509 for ambulance services.

Some council members raised concerns about the adequacy of the amounts in the agreement.

Second Ward Alderman Kris Povlsen questioned the relatively smaller amount earmarked for ambulance services.

Ninety of the 138 calls to the district were for emergency medical services, Povlsen said.

Officials for the fire department supported the agreement despite the apparent discrepancy.

Many of the calls for EMS involve dual response from fire and EMS, DeKalb Fire Chief Lanny Russell said.

“I think it’s adequate as far as the total [amount],” Russell said. “The total package that we’re getting is fair.”

Third Ward Alderman Steve Kapitan raised different concerns about the agreement.

The amount of the annual increase for services is a small percentage, Kapitan said. This could erode DeKalb’s own fire protection services.

The fire agreement also provided for impartial arbitration between the city and the fire protection district if an agreement cannot be reached in the future.

“The most important part of this contract has nothing to do with money,” Russell said. “[It] allows for binding arbitration should we not come to some sort of agreement in the future.”

Burning buildings were not the only concern before the council at Monday’s meeting.

DeKalb will be celebrating its 150th anniversary in 2006.

With this event looming on the horizon, the city council approved an ad hoc committee to discuss the planning of the celebration.

The city will provide $15,000 to kick off the celebration, City Manager Mark Biernacki said. In addition, the city hopes private donations will absorb the brunt of the cost for the celebration.

DeKalb resident Jim Schneider voiced active support for the committee and celebration.

Schneider, sporting a number of pieces of flair from the 1956 DeKalb centennial celebration, recommended the council consider local realtor Dewitt Osgood for the committee.