Cloquet Area Fire District OKs service cost recommendation

The recommendation comes after the district hired a financial consultant to look into the cost of its fire and ambulance services.

Cloquet Area Fire District headquarters
Cloquet Area Fire District Headquarters.
Jamey Malcomb / 2020 file / Pine Journal
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CLOQUET — The Cloquet Area Fire District Board voted unanimously to accept the recommendation from its financial consultant on how to break down the costs of its fire and ambulance services during a meeting Wednesday, July 20.

The recommendation was made to the board by Fitch & Associates during a special meeting on June 29 .

The breakdown of costs accepted by the board is 40.3% of costs for fire services and 59.7% of costs for ambulance services.

According to the presentation in June, per year, district staff spends 4% of its time on fire calls and 14% of its time on ambulance calls, leaving 82% of the time waiting for a call. The consultant explained that since the staff are both firefighters and paramedics the time spent not on a call would be split evenly.

Costs of something that is solely for one of the services, for example an ambulance, would not be split between the services.


With the adoption of the recommendation, the board will also send out a proposed budget to all member communities by Aug. 1 to give them an opportunity to ask any questions or voice concerns.

In other district business, the board approved the promotions of various operational staff in the district.

Fire Chief Jesse Buhs said with the promotions there are no longer any interim positions on the operational side of the district.

"These promotions are a long time coming," he said.

At the district's next board meeting in August, there will be an award ceremony where the new positions, along with Buhs and recently appointed Assistant Chief Corey Larson, will be sworn in.

Buhs said now the district can focus on filling the vacant administrative positions.

Board Member Jason Paulson, who is also a Thomson Township Supervisor, brought the board's attention to the legal opinion Thomson Township is seeking to see if the district has the legal authority to levy the township .

Paulson said he expects an answer from the county by the end of September.


Board Chair Linda Way said the good news with an opinion from the county would be that the question on whether the district can levy Thomson Township will be answered.

This story was updated at 12:21 p.m. July 21 with the correct date of the meeting. It was originally posted at 8:44 p.m. July 20. The Pine Journal regrets the error.

City officials have until the end of the calendar year to change the city budget to account for the increase. A proposal could come before the council as soon as its Dec. 6 meeting. The new rate would add $3.95 to residential water bills.

Dylan covers the local governments of Cloquet and Carlton County, as well as the Esko and Wrenshall school boards for the Cloquet Pine Journal.
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