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PFM gives final report on City’s fire issues

Mt. Juliet got some answers on the fire issue Monday before the regular meeting. 
David Eichenthal, a Senior Managing Consultant with PFM, presented his report and the fire issues being discussed between the County and Mt. Juliet. 
Mt. Juliet had hired PFM, a forensic accounting firm, to answer three questions. 
The first was does the city receive an equitable return of county services for revenue generated from taxes paid in Mt. Juliet. 
The second is what are the city’s needs over the next five years. 
And the last is if the interlocal agreement with the County is beneficial for the city and the county. 
There had been some debate among the county commission that Mt. Juliet doesn’t pay its fair share in county taxes, so the county would not increase the amount of coverage in Mt. Juliet. 
The reason being that Watertown and Lebanon have their own fire departments and Mt. Juliet does not. 
However, Eichenthal said that Mt. Juliet pays out 25 percent, but only gets 21 percent back from the county. 
Eichenthal said that might raise some red flags with Mt. Juliet citizens, but that it is very common. 
He used the example that federally, New Jersey pays in more than they get back, while Tennessee pays in less than they get back. 
Eichenthal said in looking forward for the next five years, Mt. Juliet needs to look at the data. 
Of all the calls that WEMA receives, only 1.4 percent of calls are for structural fires in Mt. Juliet. 
The majority of the calls are for ambulances, while mixing in false calls, rescue and calls of that nature. 
“You are a relatively small fire risk for a city your size,” said Eichenthal. 
He said that Mt. Juliet is lower because of factors such as a lower poverty rate and mostly newer structures in the city. 
He said that 1.4 percent of the total WEMA budget is spent on fire suppression in Mt. Juliet, which works out to about $75,000 a year. 
There was no question in Eichenthal’s mind about continuing the interlocal agreement with the county. 
“I’d work really hard with the county to maintain the interlocal agreement,” said Eichenthal. “It’s in the best interest of Wilson County, financially for both.”
In the report, it states that the “County’s cost of providing WEMA service to Mt. Juliet would not be reduced if it ceased providing fire service. In fact, its cost would likely increase…”
Commissioner Jim Bradshaw said that the commission had been working to continue that agreement with the county, but that there were some “hardheads” on the county commission that are trying to derail it. Bradshaw represents District 11 on the County Commission as well as his District 4 post for the City. 
In the regular meeting, the commission approved an ordinance regulating firework sales. 
They also approved an amendment to the final master development plan for Ellenwood Farms. 
Academy Sports got two issues approved, the first being their outdoor signage, and the ability to have outdoor sales under a canopy in front of the store. 
The commission approved the purchase of a new K-9 Unit vehicle. 
The new one has 100,000 less miles than the current, gets better gas mileage and is already equipped for the K-9. 
Two grants were approved as well, one for Planet Playground and the other to plant trees at Mundy Park. 

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