All Parties Agree to Letter of Commitment
June 8, 2022- During the June 7, 2022 West Liberty City Council Meeting the West Liberty City Council voted 4-1 in favor of authorizing Mayor McCullough to sign a letter of intent, titled “Letter of Commitment”. The letter of intent communicates the following:
Between the City of West Liberty,
West Liberty Rural Fire and EMS District, and
the West Liberty Fire & EMS Association, Inc., and Volunteers
The parties will agree to work in good faith to resolve current issues concerning Fire and EMS being provided to the City of West Liberty and the Rural Fire and EMS District.
The parties will work towards reaching an agreement to provide Fire and EMS services that best meet the needs of the parties, including the volunteers, including options such as a 28E Agreement, a 28E Agreement involving a new agency, advisory board and/or comparable entity.
The intent of these good faith negotiations is to reach an agreement that will improve services, re-establish needed relationships, increase communication and transparency, and define the roles and expectations of all parties.
The City of West Liberty, the West Liberty Rural Fire & EMS District, and the West Liberty Fire & EMS Association, Inc., and Volunteers commit on concluding their negotiations and entering into an agreement to be executed no later than October 1, 2022.
During the negotiation of the above noted agreement the volunteer Fire & EMS personnel will continue to provide fire and EMS as they have done historically.
In addition, it is agreed that this is a non-binding preliminary commitment that the parties deem necessary in order to continue negotiations.
Fire Chief Sickels, Rural Trustees Mark Madsen, and Richard Brand publicly stated they will pledge members to form a committee to meet and discuss opportunities and differences. Rural Trustee Richard Brand has further communicated the West Liberty Fire District will not drop the current litigation with the City of West Liberty until an agreement can be reached.
The City of West Liberty Council and Staff have always supported mediation, the continued efforts to resolve the indifferences, and the opportunity to continue relationships to provide emergency services for the City of West Liberty and Rural Community members. The approval and signing of the letter is again resetting this commitment and it is the City’s hope to find resolution by the October 1st deadline imposed by the Fire Volunteer Members within the City’s legal capacity.
Response from the West Liberty City Council Meeting from May 17, 2022
May 18, 2022- Thanks to previous discussion the City Council decided to move forward by approving the following items to be released to the public during Regular City Council Meeting:
Previous discussion included a work session prior to the Regular City Council meeting to review the proposed MOU 28E Agreement from the West Liberty Fire and EMS Association on 04/18/22 and additional information from Chair Dana Dominguez of the Public Safety Committee.
The discussion included the proposed MOU 28E Agreement, Callahan Consulting Report, Draft 28 E Agreement dated 03-31-2022 and City of Baxter current 28 E Agreement for discussion.
The City Council asked City Staff to provide the documents to the West Liberty Fire Volunteer Members, allowing them an opportunity to review the information as a starting point of negotiations towards a mutual resolution.
The City Council is attempting to expedite a resolution prior to the threat of the Fire Department Volunteers resigning on June 3, 2022. However, meeting this demand is not permittable as the Callahan Municipal Report identifies concerning and non-compliance asks by the association in the proposed agreement.
The City Council is asking the West Liberty Fire Volunteer Members and Public to please read the report and draft 28E Agreement above and be open to the information in order to move towards negotiations for a resolution that encompasses a mutual agreement between all parties.
City Council holds special closed session meeting
May 13, 2022- The West Liberty City Council held a special meeting with a closed session on Thursday, May 12, to continue the review of the proposed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) by the West Liberty Fire and Emergency Services Association.
Pursuant to Iowa Code Section 21.5 (1)(c), The Council went into closed session to discuss strategy with counsel in matters that are presently in litigation or where litigation is imminent where its disclosure would be likely to prejudice or disadvantage the position of the government body in that litigation.
No decision was made.
There will be a work session on Tuesday, May 17, before the regular city council meeting where the Safety Committee will provide a presentation, review, and recommendation for the proposed MOU.
City Response to Public Safety Meeting
April 28, 2022- The Public Safety Committee held a meeting on 4/26/2022 with Mayor McCullough leading the discussion. The Public Safety Committee, Council Member Dominguez and Martinez worked through questions and asked to set a time line to stay diligent to progress towards resolution.
The City appreciates the extension agreed upon by the Volunteers of the West Liberty Fire Department. The Public Safety Committee will provide a update and discussion to the entire Council on May 3 , 2022.
The City will openly discuss what is permitted as there still litigation in place, but the City as always remains committed in a resolution and participation in a successful outcome for all.
West Liberty Fire & Ambulance Facebook Post
Response to correspondence sent by members of the WLFD
April 13, 2022– We have reviewed a letter from April 7, 2022 (received by the City on April 11) by members of the West Liberty & Rural Townships Fire & EMS Association (furthermore known in this statement as “the Association”). The Association’s letter has now been provided to various media and social media outlets.
The letter contains substantive allegations that the City deems to be either wrong or wholly unfounded. The dispute regarding the roles and responsibilities of the Rural Fire District and the City, which includes the West Liberty Fire Department in the suit, is currently pending in Iowa District Court. The City is confident that there will be a successful outcome for the West Liberty and Rural Community.
We are not able to go into details regarding the Rural Fire District’s allegations due to the pending litigation; however, we can assure you that the City remains committed to participation in formal mediation, where the parties sit down with a third-party neutral mediator in an attempt to reach a resolution to the dispute.
It is our sincerest hope that the Rural Fire District agrees to such participation, amicably resolving the pending dispute between all involved parties. The City remains willing to mediate the matter over the next three weeks.
If an agreement cannot be reached and the Rural Fire District Association volunteer members follow through with their formal resignation, the City remains committed to providing emergency services within the City limits and rural community and is exploring options for alternate fire and EMS protection services, despite our wishes to agree upon a resolution with all involved parties.
The City remains dedicated to the safety and security of ALL of our citizens.