New Berlin council implementing fire truck fees at accident scenes
Nonresidents will be billed if fire engines are called
New Berlin - Nonresidents getting into crashes on New Berlin roads will be billed $500 if the city has to send a fire engine to the accident scene.
The New Berlin Common Council last week approved the new fee that actually will go to the drivers' insurance companies.
The fee could add $15,000 to New Berlin's coffers, officials estimate.
The decision to establish the fee was not unanimous, however. Aldermen David Ament and Ron Seidl voted against it.
"It's a way of getting revenue without having to discuss taxes," Ament said after the meeting.
It didn't sit right with him because unlike ambulance calls that already charge for responding, no supplies would be used, he said.
Seidl said after the meeting that he voted against the fee because he didn't want to strain the good working relationship New Berlin has with Brookfield. There has been a long history of Brookfield police responding through a mutual aid agreement to emergencies in New Berlin and he didn't like the fact that New Berlin would charge Brookfield residents this fee, he said. Brookfield has a similar fee, but it only charges for freeway accidents.
Another factor was that he didn't want to start down the slippery slope of establishing fees for everything, Seidl said.
Reacting to any fears that the city would start charging for coming to fires, Mayor Jack Chiovatero said in July when the council originally voted to support the fee that the city is not allowed to charge for responding to fires.
He didn't agree with the slippery slope argument.
"We're not trying to collect all the revenue we can," he said.
Chiovatero also said the fire department sometimes does use materials to put out fires or clean up spills at accident scenes. This would be a way to recoup those costs, he said.
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