After approving fire department fee adjustments, the Cherokee City Council was deadlocked 2 to 2 on a proposal to increase fees charged by the parks and recreation department. Council member Jim Peck was not present at the Tuesday meeting.
Roger Frisbie, treasurer of the Cherokee Fire Department, presented fee change proposals in order to generate more revenue for the fire department. These involve fire department responses to vehicle fires, grass fires and commercial structure fires. Some time back the city rejected a proposal to charge fees for responses to residential fires because many homeowner policies do not pay for fire department charges.
Although most comprehensive vehicle insurance will pay this fee, not all drivers have comprehensive insurance. State law only requires a motorist to carry liability insurance.
Bob Leach, council member, said it should be understood that fees charged to citizens for fire calls need to be enforced consistently. It can create legal problems not to pursue collection against citizens who do not have insurance that covers the specified charge.
When asked whether there have been failures to pay fire call fees in the past, Deb Taylor, city clerk, stated that there have been some failures to pay and the city has not actively sought to make collections other than to send reminder letters.
The maximum fee for vehicle fires or accidents will go from $250 to $800, plus $350 for use of the "jaws of life". The maximum for response to a grass fire will go from $250 to $800. The maximum for response to a commercial fire will go from $1,000 to $1,500.
The council members had a lengthy debate on a proposal to increase a number of fees for park facility rentals and recreation programs.
Proponents of the increases contended that the city is in desperate need of revenue. Opponents contended that increased fees could drive users away from the city's facilities, particularly those who camp at Spring Lake Park.
Dwight Varce and Greg Stieneke voted for the fee increases while Bob Leach and Mick Mallory voted against the fee increases.
The matter will be brought back to the council when all five are present.