Quincy, GCFD 3 finalize fire contract

Apr. 23—QUINCY — The city of Quincy and Grant County Fire District 3 have reached an agreement on a new four-year contract for fire services. Quincy City Council members ratified the agreement last week.

For 2024 the city will pay about $684,600.

The contract replaces one that expired at the end of 2023. It was the focus of extensive negotiations, due to changes in the way Quincy's portion of the fire district's expenses was calculated. A formula was always part of the contract, said City Administrator Pat Haley, but it required some updates.

"The basic components of the formula are measuring growth in a number of categories, like population, service area, service calls, (et cetera), " Haley said. "If the city is going to grow — which we expect it to grow — the fire department is saying, 'Hey, that's more work for us.' So this formula measures exactly, or at least attempts to measure exactly, how much the city has grown, using five different components, not just one. It's not all just population, it's not all just service demand. It's a combination of five different things."

The previous contract used a similar structure, but the arrival of data centers in Quincy, and the way they affected property values in particular, caused the city to ask for a reevaluation.

Quincy's assessed valuation increased significantly, Haley said, but the data centers don't have many calls for fire service.

"We had to modify the formula to reevaluate the role of assessed value," he said. "You have to have it in there somewhere because it represents your ability to pay. But we had to give it a different (emphasis), and that was a good part of the negotiation."

In addition, GCFD 3 is growing too, but the proportion of calls in the city of Quincy is staying about the same. Haley said Quincy accounts for about one-third of fire calls in the fire district. The two sides also worked out an agreement to keep Quincy's contract in proportion to what fighting fire in the city actually costs the district.

"(Quincy's fee) can only grow by the growth of the city," Haley said.

"We established a base budget for what it takes to serve the city of Quincy. So from year to year, the growth of the city, based on a number of different factors (and) the growth of all those factors. And the average of all those factors is the maximum growth to (the city's contribution) to the fire district budget," Haley said.

Fire district officials were willing to work with city officials to come up with an agreement that was fair to both sides, Haley said.

"I really want to commend the fire district for their willingness to work together and come to an agreement on these things. It was really an amiable negotiation," Haley said. "We have a good relationship moving forward."

Cheryl Schweizer can be reached via email at cschweizer@columbiabasinherald.com.