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Dousman-Summit fire districts merged

 Village of Dousman - The governing bodies of the communities of Dousman, Ottawa and Summit tonight gave final approval to the consolidation of the Summit and Dousman fire districts.

Effective Jan. 1, 2013, The Dousman Fire District will provide fire and emergency medical services to the villages of Summit and Dousman and most of the Town of Ottawa.

The Summit Fire District, which serves the Village of Oconomowoc Lake and a portion of the Village of Summit, will be dissolved at the end of the year.

The Village of Oconomowoc Lake will contract with the Okauchee Fire Department for emergency services. The North Prairie Fire Department will continue serving the southeast corner of the Town of Ottawa.

The Town of Ottawa will save about $60,000 in emergency service costs in the first year of the consolidation agreement. The Village of Summit will save about $20,000 during the first year, according to District Fire Chief Steve Totzke.

However, the Village of Dousman's fire protection and emergency medical service costs will increase about $60,000, according to village officials.

The reason for the increased cost for Dousman is because the new funding formula for the fire district takes into account the number of emergency calls in each of the three communities.

Dousman has the highest number of calls and nearly two thirds of those calls come from residents of the Three Pillars Senior Living Communities.

The extended care  facility is operated as a  not for profit owned by the Masonic Lodge and is exempt from paying real estates taxes which usually help local government pay for  fire and emergency medical services.

Representatives of the Masonic Lodge and the Village of Dousman are expected to begin negotiations over whether the Masons will make lump sum payments to the village in lieu of real estate taxes or be assessed a special fee for emergency calls.

The Ottawa Town Board and Summit Village Board have each agreed to contribute an additional $20,000 to the newly formed fire district until the Village of Dousman can raise the additional revenues without having to increase real estate taxes.

The Village of Dousman will repay Ottawa and Summit after the payment in lieu of taxes or the special fees generate enough revenue to pay the additional costs which is expected to occur by the end of 2014.

Dousman officials have expressed confidence the consolidation will reduce village fire and emergency medial cost in the future once the intial costs are absorbed.

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