When he first suggested it, Bristol village administrator Randy Kerkman thought a study of efficiencies among Kenosha County fire departments would be a useful long-range planning tool.
There was some initial enthusiasm for the idea. A consultant did a presentation to representatives of six municipalities — Bristol, Paris, Salem, Silver Lake, Somers and Randall – in March. The cost at that time was proposed at $1 per resident, to be paid by the respective towns and villages.
But the actual moving forward with the study — and writing that check in a time of tight municipal budgets — proved to be a stumbling block for some to participate.
Randall never got on board with participating. Somers was in, then out. Wheatland, which wasn’t at the consultant meeting but could have participated in the study, formally said no thanks in April.
Silver Lake trustees kicked around participating in the study in April and May. Ultimately, they decided — despite that municipality’s upheaval in recent years regarding fire and EMS service — to not participate, mostly because of the money.
That left Salem, Paris and Bristol.
But with fewer municipalities participating, Kerkman said the cost of the study increased to $1.35 per resident. That made the study too expensive for Salem, the largest participant in the study. After that, the project died.
Paris town Supervisor Ron Kammerzelt lamented the death of the study at the August Paris Town Board meeting.
“I think it was a good idea,” Kammerzelt said. “I think it would have been good to have another set of unbiased eyes look at the departments.”
Kerkman, talking earlier this week, was philosophical about the demise of the study. Dealing with a tight municipal budget himself, Kerkman said he understands the difficulty of balancing being fiscally conservative with planning for the future.
“To me, I like looking way out and planning it,” Kerkman said.
And while now is not the time, Kerkman said he could see support of a study reviving in the future.
“Somewhere down the road, it will probably happen,” Kerkman said.