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Fire fighter benefit dispute resolved

City of Delafield - Full and part time fire fighter/paramedics for the Lake Country Fire and Rescue will no longer have to be on the City of Delafield's payroll in order to collect state and federal retirement and health benefits.

The Social Security Administration has decided that the department is an independent political entity whose employees are eligible to receive benefits, according to Rod Stotts, president of the governing body of the department.

There are nine full time fire fighters, a full time administrative assistant, and about a half dozen part time employees who are eligible for the benefits, according to Fire Chief Jack Edwards.

After the villages of Nashotah and Chenequa and the City of Delafield created the consolidated fire department last year, federal officials initially ruled the employees were not eligible for benefits because the department did not have the authority to levy taxes or borrow money and relied on revenues from the three communities to pay for its equipment and operations.

The City of Delafield agreed to put the employees on their payroll, and later be reimbursed by the department, while fire department board members and local elected officials fought the decision.

They appealed to members of the state's congressional delegation to pursuade the federal officials there was no justification for denying the department employees benefits while benefits were being paid to the employees of hundreds of other special units of government, such as library boards, sanitary districts and other fire departments, which also did not have taxing or borrowing authority.

Stotts said he anticipates the employees will be transferred from the city payroll to the department payroll later this month.

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