City of West Liberty to sign collective commitment agreement

Margaret Hurlbert
Margaret Hurlbert
Margaret Hurlbert works as the Editor of Discover Muscatine Newspaper.

Muscatine Living

WEST LIBERTY, Iowa–Though tensions ran high at the June 7 West Liberty City Council meeting, the West Liberty City Council agreed to continue working with the West Liberty Volunteer Fire Department and the Rural Trustees to work out a 28E agreement amenable to all parties. The council voted to allow the mayor and city clerk and manager to sign the document, providing a more formalized announcement that the city would work in good faith with the two other parties.

Mayor Katie McCullough started official discussion of signing the collective commitment agreement by bringing some new information to light that she felt made it more urgent to get the agreement signed. She stated, “the city manager did not have a comprehensive and coherent backup plan for what’s going on here.”

She elaborated that in order to establish mutual aid agreements with fire department in other cities, the City of West Liberty would need to appoint an interim fire chief. However, the person the city originally thought could step into that role had no intention of doing so. Additionally, the city did not have the power to appoint an interim fire chief that night in any case, as they had not included it on their agenda. She asserted, “not signing this agreement tonight and letting the volunteers work through October puts the city in danger,” adding, “there is no viable second option.”

Though frustration over the length of time the negotiations had already taken and over the continued litigation against the city by the Rural trustees appeared evident, as well as annoyance over past miscommunications, many members of the council believed they could continue to make progress if they had more time to work with the department. Councilmember Omar Martinez stated, “I think this is actually the time we can come together to speak.” He later built on that though saying, “why don’t we start with fresh minds and fresh intentions?”

In the audience, members of the Rural Trustees and the West Liberty Volunteer Fire Department sounded as if they intended to encourage their respective organizations to sign the agreement as well. The Rural Trustees did plan to continue their litigation until all three parties signed the final 28E agreement.

The West Liberty City Council voted to allow the city to sign the collective commitment agreement. Thought they did not set out their official next steps, the mayor appeared interested in forming a working group consisting of representatives from each organization to begin discussing ways to work together to create a mutually beneficial 28E agreement. Members of the council and of the public in attendance appeared pleased with these developments. So long as all parties pledge to abide by the collective commitment agreement, the West Liberty Volunteer Fire Department will continue to offer fire and emergency medical services to residents of the City of West Liberty proper as they currently do.

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