The Town of Mills will have fire protection services for the coming year, according to a joint announcement by the town and the Mills Professional Firefighters 4961.

The announcement to enter the collective bargaining agreement came six weeks after the town council voted April 24 to lay off its fire department, with the exception of some administration staff, on June 30.

The resolution will allow Mills to provide emergency services while reducing the cost by re-establishing a paid-per-call volunteer component of the department, according to a news release from Mills Mayor Seth Coleman on Friday morning.

The agreement provides that the town will contract for the union to provide full-time firefighters for 2019-2020. The Collective Bargaining Agreement will be a public document which will be obtainable through the Mills Town Clerk.

"The resolution will also provide the Town of Mills the ability to make needed adjustments to ensure emergency service resources are consistently available for service in the Town," Coleman said in the news release.

In an interview with K2 Radio, Coleman said the town has adopted a policy of attrition for personnel in the fire department, as well as for every other department in the town because of budget issues.

The decision about the fire department was the result of a funding problem that resulted in the town spending $1.1 million to $1.3 million a year to support it, and that the town would look to other sources for fire services.

The decision took the town's residents and other fire departments by surprise. The firefighters union said last month that the decision ignored if not threatened public safety.

Last week, the Mills Town Council approved one resolution to authorize Coleman to enter a mediation with the firefighters after they expressed an intent to file an injunction to block layoffs, and another resolution to grant Coleman the authority to contract with private or public organizations to provide ambulance services and to hire a fire chief.

The mediation apparently worked.

"We have resolved the line item issue relating to fire protection for our community and now look forward to completing a sound budget for the upcoming fiscal year beginning on July 1," Coleman said in the news release.

The Town Council will meet at the Town Hall to discuss the budget and related at 7 p.m. June 18.

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