MONDOVI - Residents now will pay for the help they receive from the city's Fire Department. The City Council Tuesday night approved charging city residents $300 an hour for fire calls.
The change will take effect Feb. 1, city Administrator Dan Lauersdorf said.
The city has covered full costs for fire calls within the city, but now residents will be charged for the firefighters' assistance. Tax dollars still will cover the $400-per-hour cost for equipment, Lauersdorf said, adding that the city buys the department's equipment.
"It's basically putting it as a user fee, so if you have a fire, you're going to pay the fee," he said.
Municipalities have tight budgets today and are seeking ways to set up user fees versus increasing money from the tax roll, Lauersdorf said.
Mondovi firefighters are paid $10 per hour from the time they're paged out until they are back in the garage. The department has 30 firefighters. Last year the department responded to 79 calls, with 27 in the city.
The amount the city saves with the charge depends on the number of fire runs and number of firefighter hours, but he estimated it will save about $11,000 annually.
Lauersdorf said he talked to one local insurance agent who noted homeowner policies generally have about $500 for fire runs and people can add additional coverage.
The city of Eau Claire does not charge its residents for fire calls.