MARINETTE — At Thursday’s Marinette County Administrative Committee meeting, the committee voted to recommend that the Public Services Committee recommend the board approve the purchase of a refurbished Lenco armored rescue vehicle for the full price of the vehicle from the contingency fund.

On Tuesday, the Public Services Committee voted to split the cost with the City of Marinette 50/50, however at this meeting Committee Member Rick Polzin initially moved to postpone making a decision until the city makes a decision. “The agreement has changed from what it started out to be. It started out to be a grant and the city match alone, and now there’s county participation so it changes the cost structure that the city would have to contribute to that. The grant fell through; there is no grant at this point, that’s why the structure is going to change,” he said.

“I think the discussion needs to be about financing. The reality is that this would be a county vehicle. The City of Marinette taxpayers shouldn’t pay any more or any less than anyone else. If they contribute $90,000 on top of the county’s $90,000, which they pay taxes to the county, they would be paying double on this vehicle,” said county board chairpersin Mark Anderson, “I don’t believe that 50/50 split is fair to the city residents; it’s going to benefit the residents of Marinette County equally.”

“I appreciate everybody’s indulgence on this, but look at it this way: There are only so many officers that are special-response-team trained in both agencies. We would house this at our office in a heated storage building,” said Sheriff Jerry Sauve. “Two thirds of the population of this county is in the southern third of the county, so where’s the likelihood of problems? We need them (Marinette City Police), they need us at times. We would train together as we do now, they can jump in and bring it to us, we can jump in and bring it to them. I think we’ve moved beyond ‘do we need it or not?’ We’ve worked hard to come up with a joint venture to afford it, and I would hate to see that foiled, but I understand that the city has to go through their process.”

Anderson made a motion to recommend that the county board approve the purchase of the vehicle with 100% of the cost coming out of the contingency fund.

County Administrator John Lefebvre said: “I realize we only have $250,000 for 2020 in the contingency fund, so what we would do is bolster the contingency fund with funds hopefully from 2019 that we would carry into 2020. We don’t want to totally exhaust our contingency right up front, so we’ll look at ways to put money back in.”

“If this is approved, the agreement should be pulled and come back later,” said Corporation Counsel Gail Mattison. “The agreement is not anything you (the Administrative Committee) are going to see; the agreement would be between the two departments and approved by the Public Service Committee.”

“It is critical that the city special response team officers have access to this vehicle,” said Sheriff’s Department Lt. Jason Ducane. “The key thing of this is that this asset can be brought to a critical incident within minutes of it starting. Not 90 minutes like we experience now, but three minutes, two minutes; from our office to the high school one minute, maybe a minute and a half.”

He said the city officers have to have access to the vehicle without needing to call and ask for permission to use it.

Committee Chairman Vilas Schroeder suggested that the committee recommend the purchase of the vehicle in full to Public Service, which would then send it forward to the County Board.

“There’s time to do that,” Mattison said.

City of Marinette Police Chief John Mabry said, “I just want my people safe, and I want this equipment to better do our job. Whether the county pays 100% of this or 50% of it, at least we have it, but I have some concerns. I’m more comfortable with a partnership both financially and as a user. This isn’t an agreement for today; 10 years from now, who will be sheriff and will that sheriff say the city can use it whenever they want or not?”

“That’s to prevent this agreement from being entered into when we change who’s paying for it,” Mattison said, “but the agreement as it sits has to be modified.”