In my new role with the Fire Department, I am learning more about the challenges of providing quality fire and EMS services to all aspects of our community and at the same time maintaining a positive balance sheet.
Our Fire Department responds to most of the fire and emergency medical needs on campus. The university sits astride the city border between Auburn Hills and Rochester Hills so fire response is shared based largely on the city borders. Oakland University has its own police department that responds to police and security issues. They do a great job and we work with them frequently.
Fire and EMS is different. Their buildings are technically state facilities and don’t pay local taxes to any community where they are located. Local taxes support services like fire and EMS. So although the university is tax exempt, they are located in our community and so when they call, we go.
Back in the 1970’s the state legislature decided they would help locals pay for the police, fire and EMS services used by state facilities. So they came up with a formula that divides an amount earmarked by the legislature ($10.2M this fiscal year down 6.1% from the previous year) divided among 60 communities with qualifying state facilities. The next fiscal year proposes to drop the amount to $8.5M total. Every year we submit to the state a per call cost inventory for fire and EMS. The fire protection fund is supported by fees paid by traffic violators.
The state has a formula to determine how much to reimburse us. Here is what the formula looks like:
Estimated Equalized Value of State Facilities/(State Equalized Value of the community + Estimated Equalized Value of State Facilities) x Fire Protection Expenditures of the Municipality (the annual inventory we send them)
(State FY Appropriation (FY 2012 $10.2M) for Fire Protection Payments/Total Amount Due all Eligible communities (approx. 60)) x Unadjusted Amount Due Each Community
In the State’s FY 2010 (we are on calendar years and they are on the Oct 1 to Sept 30 year) we estimated that we spent about $69,000 and were reimbursed $23,499.
Larger communities with larger state facilities are concerned about their responsibilities to provide for state facilities and the associated costs. Ann Arbor officials recently commented on this topic in an article in the Ann Arbor News. ann-arbor-among-cities-hardest-hit
It is an arcane piece of government information but it gives you an idea of the kind of challenges that confront us.