Last increase in contribution was five years ago

Photo by Chad Koenen
The Deer Creek City Council approved increasing the lump-sum contribution that members of the fire department can receive when they retire.

By Chad Koenen


Deer Creek firefighters will receive a small boost in their retirement pension moving forward.

During its regularly scheduled meeting last Monday night, the Deer Creek City Council approved increasing the lump-sum accrued payment in the fire department’s relief association from $1,200 per year to $2,300 per year. 

Deer Creek Fire Chief Andrew Browne said the department’s fire relief association had not received an increase in its contribution in over five years. The department could seek up to $3,500 per fire fighter per year of service, but Browne said the department wanted to be fiscally responsible with taxpayers dollars.

Prior to making the recommendation to increase the contribution to the fire relief association, Browne said department members worked with an accounting firm in Staples who has experience working with fire relief associations. 

“My biggest thing is we are being fiscally responsible for my department and the taxpayers,” said Browne. “With that being said we did our due diligence to make sure this was fiscally the best move.”

Since much of the reserves in the fire relief association is in investments, city clerk/treasurer Tom Parish warned the city council that if the stock market were to go down the city could be liable to make up the difference in funding for the fire relief association if there wasn’t enough money available to make the lump-sum payment.

Even if every member were to retire tomorrow and the fire relief association were to dissolve, Browne said there would be about $185,000 left in the fire relief account.

However, Browne said if the stock market were to crash and the investments were to go down the fire department and city council could meet on the best course of action at that time. 

Like many fire departments in the region, the Deer Creek Fire Department is made up of volunteers. They are not paid for being on the department, but are paid a retirement lump-sum payment based on their years of service when they retire from the department. 

Firefighters who are on the department from 0-10 years do not receive a payment from the relief association and those who are on the department from 10-20 years will receive a prorated payment. Once a firefighter is on the department for more than 20 years they will receive their full stipend from the fire department relief association.

On a motion by Bob Lund the Deer Creek City Council agreed to increase to the annual benefit level for its lump-sum pension plan to $2,300 per year. The motion passed 2-0 with mayor Troy Beiswinger also voting in favor of the motion. 

Councilmen Chad Keskitalo, Jayme George and Danny Hendershot abstained from voting as they are also members of the fire department.

In other news

• Heard the monthly police report from New York Mills Police Chief Bobby Berndt who stated the police department responded to 28 calls last month. He said the police department spent 34 patrol hours in the community in the past month and will drive around the community in the near future with the mayor to address blight issues in the community. Some of the calls were related to medicals, animal complaints and the department issued six warnings. 

• Received an update on the condemnation and what to do with the materials at the residence at 107 Clark St. The city council heard that the ash from the fire can be taken to the Otter Tail County transfer station in Henning. The plan is to have a controlled burn for fire department training in October. 

• Approved 3-1, with Bob Lund voting in dissent, granting a building permit for Justin Roggenkamp for a new storage shed/shop. Lund said he voted against the measure as the building was already put up before the building permit came before the city council. 

• Approved a building permit for Donna Astle for the construction of a fence. 

• Heard the fire department report from Browne, who stated the department fielded five calls in the month of June, all of which were medical. For the year the department has responded to 36 calls. He said the department served just over 100 people during its first-ever pancake breakfast during Deer Trails Day. 

• Approved the application of  Jessica Nelson to the Deer Creek Rescue Squad. Browne said she lives in rural Deer Creek and expressed an interest in being on the rescue squad, but not the fire department at this time. 

• Heard the city is working on a Small Cities Development Program grant and is waiting for word from the state for the grant.