Despite vehement opposition from two board members, Sturtevant trustees Tuesday approved paying the Village of Mount Pleasant $17,000 for 2015 South Shore Fire Department equipment purchases Sturtevant couldn’t afford at the time.
At a Sturtevant Finance Committee meeting last month, committee members voted 2-1 to deny Mount Pleasant the payment. Committee chair Trustee John Johnson disagreed with that decision and conferred with village attorneys to have the matter placed on the village board agenda for a full discussion. Trustees Chris Larsen and Chris Wright – the other members of the Finance Committee – believed Johnson went against both village ordinance and standard operating procedure of the village board.
After SC Johnson announced they were donating $324.000 to the fire department, both Mount Pleasant and Sturtevant saw their costs for 2016 equipment purchases go down considerably so Mount Pleasant asked Sturtevant to forward the $17,000 in 2016 that Sturtevant didn’t pay in 2015.
“I don’t see why this $17,000 is so important that we’re breaking our normal procedure,” Larsen said during the 20-minute discussion that got heated at times. “I am waiting to be convinced, and I just don’t see it.”
But Johnson said Sturtevant has a responsibility to pay the $17,000 now that the village can afford it because of SCJ’s gift to South Shore.
“The $50,000 in the budget was all we could afford at the time, but this gift means we can afford it in 2016,” he said.
In a nutshell, the consolidated fire agreement signed in 2009 includes a formula for financial responsibility for equipment purchases. If only one village approves one or more purchases, that village becomes fully liable for the costs of those items.
The full cost of South Shore equipment came to $1.2 million, and Sturtevant’s portion – around 18 percent – came to about $68,000. When the full Sturtevant board approved the 2015 municipal budget, there was $50,000 marked for those items. Mount Pleasant went forward with the purchases anyway and covered the difference per the contract.
Wright could not be at the meeting, but he submitted a written statement that was distributed to the rest of the board prior to the meeting.
“The fact that a donation was made for agreed items in the 2016 CIP changes nothing in the agreement,” he wrote. “Therefore the board should vote no.”
After Larsen moved four times – all without seconds – to refer the matter back to committee, to hold the matter over until a special meeting on Dec. 29 when Wright could be present, to table the matter indefinitely, and to move to adjourn until Jan. 12, Johnson made a motion to pay Mount Pleasant $17,356 in 2016 for purchases made in 2015.
The motion passed with a 5-1 vote. Larsen was the lone dissention.