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City objects to insurance proposal for safety bldg.

Despite the promise of lower insurance premiums, city officials in Abbotsford say they are not comfortable with an offer made by the Central Fire and EMS to take over the insurance for the city’s public safety building.

The chairman of the fire district board, Larry Oehmichen, had presented an offer from MacGillis Insurance Agency of Fredonia to insure the entire building, which includes the fire hall and the Colby- Abby Police Department, for $3,437.

That would save the district about $1,250 in 2020, and lower the city’s cost by $409. However, it would also require the lease between the district and the city to be amended — and city officials are not happy with the proposed terms.

At a fire district meeting last Thursday, Abbotsford Ald. Roger Weideman said the amended lease presented by Oehmichen makes it appear as if the district’s annual rent payment for the fire hall would drop from $1,000 to $1.

Oehmichen, who was not at last Thursday’s meeting, said during a telephone interview on Monday that city officials are misinterpreting that provision.

The district would still pay the city $1,000 per year for renting the fire hall, he said, and the $1 per year would be added just so the district can cover the police department portion of the building.

City officials are also not happy with how the breakdown in insurance costs would change under the amended lease.

Instead of the district paying 75 percent, as it does now, the district would pay 68 percent under Oehmichen’s proposal, while the city’s share would increase from 25 to 34 percent.

“That’s just not going to be acceptable for the city,” Weideman said at a committee of the whole council meeting held the night before the district meeting.

In response, Oehmichen said the proposed cost split comes from an insurance adjuster based on the square footage of the building. He said the original 75/25 split was just “pulled out of the air” by a former Abbotsford council member.

Weideman said the city is willing to consider an offer from MacGillis Insurance, but the city has not received a response from agent Ryan Bedroske after it requested a quote.

Oehmichen said the offer from MacGillis is only valid for the fire district, since it has several other buildings already covered by the insurance company.

Mayor Lori Voss said she also doesn’t like the city being named “an additional insured” party on the building’s insurance police, since that could cause issues if a claim were ever filed.

“We have a vested interest in that building,” she said. “We can’t let someone else accept that check.”

Oehmichen said any check issued after a claim would come to both the city and the fire district, and the city would be made whole for any loss it incurs.

Still, city officials are wary of giving up any control over the building’s insurance policy.

City administrator Dan Grady pointed out that the city still owes money on the building, and many local donors have helped pay off that debt over the years.

The city is currently insuring the building at a cost of $5,096 through Spectrum Insurance, with 75 percent of that cost, $3,828, being billed to the district for the fire hall portion of the building.

The district’s insurance proposal would cover a loss up to $6.5 million, compared to the $5.1 million currently covered by the city’s policy, but Grady said MacGillis coverage “is not the same” as what the city has now.

Oehmichen said the issue will be revisited at the district’s next meeting on March 19 in Abbotsford.

_ The the district responded to 87 ambulance calls and nine fire calls between Jan. 17 and Feb. 20, according to the chief’s monthly report. District chief Joe Mueller said the district had a couple of really busy days — with 10 calls on one day and 11 calls on another — but they were able to cover them all.