The Milton Joint Fire Commission heard status updates Wednesday on the ongoing talks between various municipal governments about the future of fire and emergency services coverage in the city and town of Milton.
Lynda Clark, a member of the Milton City Council and a fire commission member, said the city is waiting on a Wisconsin Policy Forum analysis of the city’s options for fire and EMS coverage, including analysis of a merger with the city of Janesville and of a stand-alone city of Milton fire department.
If the city of Milton were to pursue a contract for services with the city of Janesville, it would include just those two governments, leaving out the town of Milton.
“If it’s a contract service, it would make more sense that there are individual contracts,” Milton Town Chairman Bryan Meyer said Wednesday.
Meyer also told the commission that when he was asked by Janesville City Manager Mark Freitag if the town of Milton was also interested in pursuing a contract with Janesville, Meyer said yes.
Meyer and Theresa Rusch, another Milton City Council member and the newly appointed commission chair, agreed city and town officials need to keep each other updated.
“It’s not that we can drop everything for the next six, seven months,” Rusch said. “We need to continue to work together and plan beyond that.”
Ernie Rhodes, who is chief of the Milton and Janesville fire departments, lauded employees in both departments amid the uncertainty of the ongoing talks.
“They’re still willing and able to serve the community with pride and professionalism, and I’m very proud of them,” Rhodes said. “It’s been a challenging time for them with everything going on and not really understanding all the information.”
Rhodes added the Janesville Fire Department is open to consolidation.
“We are always open to have that conversation to build the best system that we can build with good response times and ample resources to handle a multitude of emergencies—not only multiple calls at once but any significant emergency,” he said.
In December, the Joint Fire Commission voted to pursue consolidation with the Janesville Fire Department. Shortly after that, town of Milton officials also began exploring other options for providing emergency services to its residents.
To that end, representatives from the towns of Milton, Harmony, Lima and Johnstown on Monday discussed the possibility of building a satellite station that would be part of the Edgerton Fire Protection District during a special town meeting. The station would be on land in the town of Milton near the intersection of High Street and Highway 59 in Milton.
The Milton Town Board previously authorized spending up to $30,000 for consulting work by Five Bugles Design.
With the help of Edgerton Fire Chief Randy Pickering, Five Bugles began looking at what would be needed in a satellite station under the assumption there would be an Edgerton fire district station in Newville. Meyer asked Five Bugles to work with Pickering on programming plans for a Newville station.
Once that work is done, Five Bugles will do conceptual plans for the two stations and a town hall/police/court building in the town of Milton.