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North Shore Fire Department hires facilitator to help revise funding formula

March 13, 2013

The North Shore Fire Department board of directors on Tuesday hired a facilitator to aid in the process of building a new funding formula by the end of 2013.

Representatives from the member communities of NSFD unanimously voted to approve a contract with Public Policy Forum President Rob Henken, who will act as a third-party facilitator to guide negotiations.

Henken was chosen Tuesday after the board interviewed four candidates. Henken's rate is $90 per hour, or a flat fee of $2,000 for a project not to exceed 30 hours, according to board documents.

The updated funding formula would take effect in the 2016 budget year, replacing the three-year formula approved by each of the member communities and the NSFD board in 2012.

To take effect, a new funding formula would have to be unanimously approved by all seven communities, said NSFD Chief Robert Whitaker.

Completing the formula by the end of 2013 and figuring out each community's contribution to the fire department would help the communities plan for any budget-affecting changes, Whitaker said.

The facilitator's role is to see what issues exist with the current funding formula, meet with the representatives of the seven communities and bring a consensus to the group. Consensus is key since all have to approve any changes to the formula, Whitaker said.

Henken joined the Public Policy Forum in 2008. Since then, he has authored two reports that won national awards from the governmental research association. One report focused on the Milwaukee County Transit System's fiscal crisis, the other was an analysis of structural reform in Milwaukee County government. He also works as an adjunct associate professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee School or Architecture and Urban Planning.

Before working with the Policy Forum, Henken worked with Milwaukee County for 10 years, serving as director of research for the county board, director of health and human services, and director of administrative services.

He also directed two nonprofit organizations in Milwaukee.

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