King William approves changes to fire and rescue operations

aluck@tidewaterreview.com

The county will soon own the King William Volunteer Fire and Rescue building in Aylett.

The board voted 4-1 — with Hansen voting against — to have the county sign a permit agreement and a transfer/purchase of assets agreement with King William Volunteer Fire and Rescue at their Monday night meeting.

The agreements put the ownership of the building in the county’s hands, creates a King William Volunteer Fire and Rescue auxiliary organization and transfers the assets of Volunteer Fire and Rescue to the county.

The county will purchase the building and assets for $546,831.15. The total includes paying off the building’s mortgage of $282,646.12 and refinancing equipment loans with local banks at $264,185.03, according to Tassinari

The agreements will not be effective until the King William Volunteer Fire and Rescue executive board signs them, followed by a 45-day due diligence inspection period, as well as a 90-day closing period, according to county administrator Bobbie Tassinari.

The auxiliary organization will support fire, rescue and emergency medical services in the county and will have the ability to hold community fundraising events.

Money raised at those events will go to the organization, not the county, as the organization supports fire and emergency services in the county, which could be county-owned or volunteer organizations, according to county attorney Daniel Stuck.

Before the agreement was discussed and voted on, the board held a public hearing on the use of the building by the auxiliary organization.

Melissa Yopp, 5th District resident, said she thinks it creates a conflict of interest to allow the auxiliary organization to organize fundraisers.

Matthew Yopp, 5th District resident and president of Mangohick Volunteer Fire Department, said he is concerned about possible tax implications.

Jacob Fitzgerald, lieutenant and executive board secretary with King William Volunteer Fire and Rescue, said the agreement helps provide for all volunteers and paid staff.

Discussion and vote

Stuck said the auxiliary organization will pay the county for utilities, and that a tax specialist reviewed the agreements and saw no tax implications.

Supervisor Bob Ehrhart made a motion to table the resolution to approve the agreements. The motion was seconded by Supervisor David Hansen.

Ehrhart said his concerns were about the use of the facility. “We don’t want to create a precedence for one nonprofit organization to hold fundraisers there.”

Hansen agreed and said the county could benefit from having more time to look over the agreements and ask for constituent responses.

Chairman Bill Hodges said the building is “not a convention center.”

Supervisor Travis Moskalski said it is similar to the King William Little League agreement, which provides maintenance for county park fields.

“This organization will provide material support to us,” Moskalski said.

Stuck said the organization will handle calendar requests and the agreement has provisions for allowed events that won’t disturb emergency circumstances.

“The county is not renting out the facility,” Stuck said. “Our liability for damages or instances is second to theirs in the agreement and there are provisions to limit possible situations.”

Hansen said he wants to see County Fire and EMS Chief Andy Aigner’s guidelines and procedures concerning the auxiliary organization.

Aigner said he will govern and adopt the policies King William Volunteer Fire and Rescue has in place, but did not specify any policies.

Ehrhart’s motion to table the resolution was denied 3-2, with Hansen and Ehrhart voting in favor.

Fire and EMS update

Aigner presented an update on the County’s Fire and EMS department.

The county had 24/7 coverage of fire and EMS services as of Jan. 28, delivering on Hodges’ three-month ultimatum to keep up 24/7 service given to Aigner at a Jan. 29 meeting.

The county had 27 active volunteers in February and hired 10 part-time staff members as of March 1.

The new station four, Dunluce District, which is scheduled to open April 1, will have a two-person staff minimum per day and will handle all first-out EMS calls, unless a closer staffed unit is available.

Station One, King William County Fire and EMS, once Station Four, is open and will handle all first-out fire engine calls, priority one or two EMS calls and second-out EMS calls.

Station One answered a total of 106 calls -- 88 EMS and 18 fire -- with no missed calls in February, according to Aigner’s presentation.

Moskalski complimented Aigner and everyone involved in the transformation of the county’s fire and EMS operations; three years ago Station One was missing 57 percent of calls, according to a 2016 Tidewater Review article.

Aigner thanked Moskalski and said they couldn’t do it without support of the board, Tassinari, county staff, community and their volunteers and staff.

Luck can be reached at 757-291-2038, aluck@tidewaterreview.com or @ashleyrluck on Twitter

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