City Council Study Session 28 November 2017 – Fire

28 November 2017                City Council Regular Meeting            Citizen Minutes

Item ID 17-329 Fire and Emergency Medical Services Discussion

Littleton Fire Protection District notified the City that they would be terminating their contract with the city effective January 1, 2019. Highlands Ranch Metro District notified the City that they too would be terminating their contract with the City effective January 1, 2019.   At the time of this discussion Highlands Ranch had not submitted their termination letter – apparently they were meeting at the same time but this morning they did make their intentions known.

The study session was to focus on options for the provision of fire services and emergency medical services to the citizens of Littleton.

Mark Relph said the process for decision-making would be data driven and there would be alternative approaches analyzed.

Option – A partnership with West Metro – not an option

Option – Contract for service with South Metro or Denver

Option – Unification merger with South Metro

Option – Stand-alone fire department with emergency medical services

Option – Stand alone fire department with emergency medical services contracted

There are short term and long term alternatives that need to be analyzed as well.

Staff has not done any real work on estimating the costs associated with unification.

For the stand-alone department there were three scenarios presented.

Scenario 1 – Full fire operations at stations 11, 12 and 19 and EMS service

Scenario 2 – Full fire operations at stations 11, 12 and 19

Scenario 3 – Full fire operations at stations 11 and 12

(All scenarios include fire prevention, dispatch which is contracted out to South Metro and emergency operations.)

Relph presented two graphs showing their estimates of costs in dollars and in a mill levy for three different scenarios. But he reinforced more than once that the numbers were going to change one way or the other – they just really didn’t know at this time what the costs would be with each of the three scenarios.

There are other issues requiring further discussion –

-Separation of building and apparatus ownership (the City and the LFPD co own rolling stock and buildings)

-Future EMS revenues – how are they shared or are they shared?

-Disposition of current capital leases

-Contractual agreements with Lockheed and Meadowbrook (the City is providing Lockheed fire service for $300,000 per year with a 2% increase each year for 15 years)

-Metro Fire Training Center

-Administrative fee/Overhead costs

Relph recommended they hire a consultant to help with the complex issues. There are consultants that have experience in this type of situation and an unbiased critique of information of the alternatives is needed. Staff does not have the expertise or time to work though the issues. Relph would like to have a consultant hired by January 1.

There was a discussion of mutual aid – other fire departments responding to another department’s emergencies. Armstrong said the biggest issue is when aid is given it is expected to be received in equal amounts. Why would South Metro customers want to use their resources to respond in Littleton? (However, we have an agreement signed by numerous fire agencies (South Metro, Littleton, Littleton Fire Protection District, West Metro included) to provide mutual aid signed in 2002. The Chief presented the issue of mutual aid as something that is not obligated for the other agencies to provide to Littleton if we were a stand alone department but that appears not to be the case based on the 2002 mutual aid agreement.)

Relph talked about how difficult it will be to determine how the buildings and apparatus ownership will be divided. There could be deep financial implications and possible litigation. With the departure of the Littleton Fire Protection District we will no longer receive the $750,000 revenue that they pay to Littleton for providing their services. We will loose 53 fire fighters. (There are 190 FTEs with 160 line personnel. With the departure of Highlands Ranch there will be more than the 53 fire fighters leaving the employ of the city.)

Jerry Valdes asked if the consultant would be hired to work for the city or for the partnership. Relph said the city. Carol Fey asked what sort of consultant would be hired, as consultants don’t always excel in all areas. Relph agreed that they might need two – one for the complex issues and another for the public engagement.

The level of service is another subject that will be discussed at a later date. The consultant should be able to help with what that will look like with either the stand-alone department or a merger. Relph said there is a consultant he would like to engage but there are others and another meeting is needed to determine the scope of work for the consultant(s).

Karina Elrod asked about a timeline. Relph would like to have the consultant hired by Jan. 1 and be well on our way by midyear with what we are doing. Time is not on our side. Elrod asked if the three partners could get together to negotiate with South Metro. Brinkman said that’s the goal. Relph said there was value in all three going together with the assets and not having to argue about that. Fey asked if they wanted to do that at any cost? Relph said no.

Item Ordinance 35-2017 – Review of the ordinance of the City of Littleton amending Title 3, Chapter 9, Sections 3-9-1-2,n3-9-3-2, 3-9-1-10 and 3-9-6-12 of the city code, enacting and implementing standardized sales and use tax definitions.

City Attorney, Steve Kemp, explained that the legislature would like for all home rule cities to adopt a standard set of definitions for sales and use tax. He said it was absolutely critical that they adopt the definitions. If council did not the legislature will say – they need to take back the authority from the cities to collect sales tax. This will not change our tax policy. Relph said if the state should take over the collection of our sales tax the city would be at a disadvantage.

Board and Commission Liaisons

The mayor has the authority to assign all council members to the boards that they will serve as a liaison. They are:

Brinkman – Littleton Fire Rescue Board, Metro Mayors Caucus, UDFCD (Urban Drainage and Flood Control), ACMMC (Arapahoe County Mayors/Managers/Commissioners), and South Platte Working Group

Valdes – Housing Committee, Planning Commission, Alternate for UDCFD

Cole – CML Policy Committee, Library Board

Elrod – DRCOG, Arapahoe County Transportation Forum

Schlachter – CDOT, Museum Board

Driscoll – HDLM (Historic Downtown Littleton Merchants), LIFT

Fey – Fine Arts, Highline Canal Working Group

Council Breakfast MeetingsBrinkman wants to reduce the number so they will only have one every other month. The key stakeholders that she thought should be on the list are:

LPS, Historic Preservation Board, Planning Commission, South Suburban Parks, Tri Cities, South Metro Housing Options, Marketing Group, Senior Services, Aging Well Resource Center and Immigrant Resource Center.

There will be a breakfast meeting Thursday, November 30 with the fire partners.

 Brinkman announced a council retreat on Friday February 2 at the Falls Event Center. The same facilitator from the last retreat will facilitate their meeting. There’s a lot of work to be done and they will work on their goals and priorities. Brinkman will meet with each council member to get his or her goals and priorities. They will go through their protocols and legislative procedures. There will be a conversation about the Vision, Complan and Zoning Codes. This council needs to get it done!

Brinkman will resume providing dinner for the council members, courtesy of the taxpayers, before each study session.  (A practice she started when she was mayor a few years ago.) She said they work full time, traffic is bad and it can be difficult to get home and have dinner before the meetings.  Snacks and drinks will be provided for them behind the dais at regular meetings and Becky Phye would be contacting them to find out what their favorite snacks and drinks are so they would be available for them.

 

 

 

 

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