Shen council sets fire insurance charge | News

(Shenandoah) — Shenandoah’s Fire Department now has a way to recoup some of the expenses from large fires.

By unanimous vote Tuesday evening, the Shenandoah City Council approved the first reading of an amendment to Chapter 35 of the city ordinance regarding fire protection. Council members then unanimously waived the second and third reading, and officially adopted the amendment, which allows the fire department to collect insurance to defray some of the costs of battling fires. Speaking in favor of the amendment at a public hearing, local insurance agent Brian Steinkuhler addressed the question of whether the department can accept donations rather than charge insurance.

“I’ve called a few companies,” said Steinkuhler, “and, they said, ‘well, in the way that it reads in the policy, it actually has to be charge.’ So, this donation idea to where they’re just going to give a donation, some have in the past, I think. But, I think the way it reads to actually get that endorsement to kick in, it has to be a charge from the city, or from the fire department.”

Fire Chief Justin Marshall reiterated that the department was not charging a fee for fire calls.

“The whole point of the ordinance, in my thought, were to offset expenses from a very large fire,” said Marshall. “Like I said, if we burn up our entire fuel budget for a big commercial fire, then we’re back here amending the budget. A fire service, we have to be here no matter what. I’m just trying to kind of recoup the costs of the wear and tear, and the astronomical amount of fuel right now in service calls, and anything that could get damaged.”

As an example, Marshall broke down some of the costs incurred from battling the large commercial fire on Maple Street back in November.

“We charge $647 for the engine that was there,” said Marshall. “Then, $2,200 for the aerial (truck) because it pumped and burnt probably 250 gallons of fuel. Obviously, the biggest piece of equipment gets the biggest charge.”

In other business, the council held a public hearing on the city‘s budget proposal for fiscal 2024, then set another public hearing for its next regular meeting March 28th. City Administrator A.J, Lyman says the council must hold a second hearing because of recalculated budget numbers from the property tax rollback adjustment approved by the Iowa Legislature last month. Council members also approved public benefit status for the Star Spangled Shenandoah celebration. This year’s event extends over two days, with a vendor fair at Priest Park and the parade taking place July 1st, and second vendor fair and fireworks on July 3rd.

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