January Board Meeting Minutes

MINUTES OF THE WHETSTONE FIRE DISTRICT
BOARD MEETING, January 24th, 2017

Call to Order/Roll Call/Affirmation of Quorum/Pledge of Allegiance:

Chairman, Rick Evans, called the meeting to order at 6:00 p.m. The meeting was held in the Whetstone Fire District Station 321 classroom, 2422 N Firehouse Lane, Huachuca City, Arizona.

Members Present:

Rick Evans, Chairman
Ken Leffler, Clerk
Michelle Bell, Board Member

Staff Present:

Pete Bidon, Fire Chief
Cathy Dyer, Office Manager

Absent:

Bobby Chapman, Board Member

It was determined a quorum existed with three board members present.

Call to the Public:

No members of the public wished to address the board.

1. [ ] Old Business:

No Old Business.

New Business:

2. [1.] Review, Amendment and Possible Action of Public Session Minutes for December 2016

MOTION: Move to approve the Public Session Minutes as presented
RESULT: Minutes approved, all in favor none opposed
MOVED BY: Ken Leffler
SECONDED: Michelle Bell

3. [2.] Review, Discussion and Possible Action of the Fire District Operations Manual

Rick Evans stated we have several operations and directives manuals from over the years. We cannot find paperwork to establish when some new material has been adopted or replaced old policies. In 2015 we discovered a board operations manual from Hillside Fire [Highlands Fire District] that incorporated the open meeting law and Robert’s Rules of Order. A county attorney found errors in it where policies should have been bylaws; the manual is not as comprehensive as we hoped.

Rick Evan asked Chief Bidon about the policy manual blended from Chief Balke and Chief Bidon from Northwest Fire District. Chief Bidon said Chief Balke started with it and we added the chapters on fire suppression and EMS response.

Rick Evans said we are still finding documents like memorandums in place as policy that need to be incorporated into the manual. Everything needs to be formatted and homogenized. Arizona Fire District Association published a manual with all the Arizona revised statutes, rules, and regulations that apply to fire districts and it incorporates open meeting law.

Ken Leffler asked what the next step is. Rick Evans said we have to decide what we can do with procedures in house without stepping on toes with policies based on Arizona Revised Statutes or federal and state codes where we will get attorneys involved.

Chief Bidon stated we should form a workgroup with a couple board members, a couple staff members and come up with what we want for our amended policy manual. A presentation can be made to the board to adopt the new policy after it has gone through the county attorney.

Rick Evans said all the human resources, personnel, hiring, workers rights, employment conditions falls into the personnel manual. The operations manual would be geared more towards how we do stuff. We may need a training manual for new recruits as well.

Ken Leffler asked what is the guarantee we will have the county attorney’s blessing and not repeat what happened in the past when we thought we had their blessing. Rick Evans said he doesn’t think there is a guarantee. Not everything needs to go to the county attorney for review; the board can adopt policies that are skill based and not wait for a legal review.

Chief Bidon asked for clarification regarding which book Rick Evans is talking about. Rick Evans said the board handbook went to the county attorney’s office. Chief Bidon said we never got a blessing on the board handbook; we adopted it before it went to the county attorney. Michelle Bell said that is her concern with not adopting anything until it goes through the county attorney to make sure we are within the law. Rick Evans disagrees, he said he has an email from the county attorney from the review that states use this book, refer to this book as to how you should be set up and proceeding.

Chief Bidon suggests it goes to the attorney that is going to represent the district and the policy in any court since they will be defending it; only items that involve federal, state or local law not fire department operations. Michelle Bell agrees.

A workgroup meeting was set for Thursday, January 26, 2017, at 2:00 pm at the Whetstone Fire District Station 321 classroom to start an outline. Chief Bidon said he will get a couple firefighters involved.

Keith Guin from the public stated he has read several fire district operation manuals from across the state and he has yet to find one that includes a section for the governing board and wants the chairman’s insight as to why he is including it in the operations manual. Rick Evans said the fire district has changed a lot in the last ten years without an increase in taxes. There were no instructions on how to be a board member until we found the Hillside Fire Protection District [Highlands Fire District] document that included working together, courtesy, team philosophy, as well as the open meeting law. It is not common for governing boards responsible to all the residents, management of the money, and supporting operations and plans to have any instructions. Keith Guin said that is why the Arizona Fire District Association has published a board operations manual for a number of years. From a legal prospective he thinks the board should consider having those as two separate documents so we don’t hold up the technical manual with a legal review to ensure that we are meeting the state requirements as a board. Rick Evans said that is exactly what we are talking about – splitting some other things off. There is an indication for several manuals.

Melissa Bidon from the public said Rick Evans mentioned anyone from the public has the opportunity to be able to look at the operations manual and board manual and asked if they are back in the station because she knows for months they weren’t. Rick Evans said they are here in the station; the binder was absent but the information was here.

Chief Bidon asked Ken Leffler if he is able to make the meeting on Thursday. Ken Leffler replied he can make it.

Drew Ware from the public stated because we are having a work session we can have all the board members present, it’s not a board meeting, we don’t have to post it because we aren’t doing any board business. Chief Bidon said we do have to post it. Rick Evans said you are absolutely right, we do it as a precaution so there is no misconception. Keith Guin said a work session requires posting under open meeting law. Chief Bidon said with a statement no official action will be taken.

4. [3.] Review, Discussion and Possible Action of Adjusting Fire Chief’s Salary While Covering Upcoming, Vacant Medic Shifts

Chief Bidon said he would like to go into executive session because this is a personnel thing. Chief Bidon asked Cathy Dyer to stay for the executive session.

MOTION: Move to go into Executive Session
RESULT: Approved, all in favor none opposed
MOVED BY: Michelle Bell
SECONDED: Ken Leffler

Rick Evans stated we are back in general session. In executive session we were exploring options to continue paramedic coverage without interruption based on some employees leaving.

MOTION: Move to Adjust the Fire Chief’s Salary Starting January 31 for 90 Days to Cover Paramedic Deficit
RESULT: Approved, all in favor none opposed
MOVED BY: Michelle Bell
SECONDED: Ken Leffler

5. [4.] Review, Discussion and Possible Action of Process of Conducting Interviews to Fill Vacant Board Member Seat/s

Rick Evans stated under statute we have 90 days to fill the board vacancy. Bobby Chapman ran unopposed; he is required by state law to review the open meeting laws prior to resuming his duties on the board.

Rick Evans would like to publicize the board vacancy for a couple more weeks and get as many people interested as possible.

Chief Bidon reminded the board we have 66 days left to fill it before the county board of supervisors will step in and fill it.

Michelle Bell stated she would like to set up an appointment to interview with Mr. Suhajda. The interview is set for Monday, January 30, 2017, at 6:00pm at the Whetstone Fire District Station 321 classroom and is open to the public.

6. [5.] Review, Discussion and Possible Action of the Financial Reports

Cathy Dyer provided each board member a spreadsheet with account balances and the associated reports. Accounts receivable for December was $62,180.56, ambulance and tax revenues combined. Accounts payable for December was $57,216.75. The closing balance as of December 31st was $133,685.09 for maintenance and operations. The reserve account balance as of December 31st was $110,714.09. The volunteer pension balance was $41,166.08. The total activity for the PBW operating was $2.38 for December, that and the closing balance for November have been submitted to the county for transfer into our account.

MOTION: Move to accept the Financial Reports as presented
RESULT: Approved, all in favor none opposed
MOVED BY: Ken Leffler
SECONDED: Michelle Bell

Chief’s Report-
Information regarding the following topic(s) presented by the fire chief:

There was 42 calls for service in December; 2016 finished with 838 calls, about 100 less than the previous year.

The new rescue tool from the grant is here and will be put into service on Saturday after mandatory training.

We responded automatic aid to Huachuca City for a structure fire on Yuma.

We have upcoming staff changes at the end of this month and in February that we already talked about.

Board Members’ Comments:

No board member comments.

Future Agenda Items:

Chief Bidon stated we need to take a formal action on the attorney services. We have Cochise County through default. Rick Evans stated we are looking for a document between us. Michelle Bell stated we talked about getting something in writing at the last meeting. Michelle Bell wants it on the agenda for the next meeting. Rick Evans stated he has a call in to Mr. McIntyre.

Adjournment:

MOTION: Adjourn the meeting at 7:41 pm
RESULT: Approved, all in favor none opposed
MOVED BY: Ken Leffler
SECONDED: Michelle Bell

Rick Evans, Chairman
Diana Jones, Billing Administrator

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