Fire bill procedures outlined; road study spurs action
The town of River Falls is getting serious about collecting overdue fire call charges, some left unpaid for years.
Board members agreed the letter Town Clerk Ruth Stern wrote to send to people still owing for fire calls clearly explains the procedures for appealing or paying a fire call charge.
The letter says the Rural Fire Association sets the fees, which are $800 per call. This includes false alarms. A graduated fee schedule is used for multi-vehicle accidents.
People can appeal a fire call if they don't agree with the charges. Insurance sometimes covers fire calls, but it is the responsibility of the person owing the fee to contact his or her insurance. The town doesn't contact the insurance companies.
The town also does not add extra charges to a fire call. If a town resident owes money and it's not paid within the specified time period, the charge goes on the resident's tax bill.
Non-residents' unpaid bills are sent to collections.
The town has dealt with multiple disputed fire calls, especially those considered false alarms.
One example given was a truck reported flipped over in a ditch. When fire trucks and an ambulance arrived, the truck was right side up on its tires on the road. The fire call still applied because there was evidence of an accident and damage to the vehicle.
Town Chair Diana Smith reported she received a call from Greg O'Malley, N8605 805th St., about the condition of 805th Street.
O'Malley told Smith the residents of 805th Street plan to come to the July 1 board meeting to voice their concerns about the poor condition of the road. Seven homes are located on 805th.
At the May 20 meeting, the town board heard a feasibility study about the road from Stevens Engineers of Hudson.
The engineering firm put a $498,000 price tag on completely redoing the entire road and bringing it up to town road standards.
Smith pointed out that is a huge amount of money for one road out of 60 miles of town roads, considering the town can afford to do about $100,000 of road work a year.
"There will have to be some concessions made on both sides," Smith said.
Supervisor Siri Smith said she's glad the residents will have a chance to see the feasibility study and see that redoing the road "is not as easy as they want it to be."
The narrow road has many challenges, including a silo in the road right of way, overhanging trees, a steep, shaded hill that gets very icy in the winter and steep drop-offs to a creek.
The school bus sometimes can't get down the road to drop off and pick up kids when the weather is bad.
Diana Smith said the road, which began as a farm path to reach back acreage, needs to have something done with it, even if total reconstruction over a multi-year period is impossible.
"There does have to be something done to that road to make it safer," Smith said.
The feasibility study suggested either taking down the silo or buying land to go around it. But that would interfere with the tree farm located in that area and the silo is considered by some to be a historic landmark.
Both ideas probably won't be received well, board members agreed. Supervisor Brad Mogen wondered how a road with such poor conditions was ever accepted as a town road in the first place.
Discussion will continue at the next meeting.
In other business
Brian Copp, N8141 975th St., agreed to chair the Parks Committee for one year.
A public hearing for the non-metallic mining law will be held at 8 p.m., July 1.
he board voted to reduce the cost of recycling these items: air conditioners and water softeners will go down from $20 to $15; microwaves from $10 to $5 to $10 depending on size; and standard household appliances from $15 to $10.