Created: 07/28/2014 6:50 PM KSTP.com
By: Cassie Hart
The city of Lino Lakes is battling with its volunteer firefighters over the future of the fire department.
In January, the city council unanimously voted to split from the Centennial Fire District; which is comprised of Lino Lakes, Centerville and Circle Pines. They will open their own city fire department beginning in January 2016.
The three cities have been sharing fire services for 28 years.
John Swenson, Lino Lakes' Public Safety Director, says going at it alone will ensure a model for the long-term growth of the city, promising continued quality service. He says after startup costs, annual fire department operations will not cost the city any more than it currently pays for fire coverage from Centennial.
However, firefighters disagree. They are mailing flyers to city residents this week, arguing that a split from the Centennial Fire District will cost city taxpayers more money, lead to slower response times and hurt recruiting.
Firefighters plan to present a petition to the city council with more than 800 signatures requiring that the decision to separate from Centennial be put on the November ballot for city voters to decide.
Regardless of whether the city leaves the Centennial Fire District, it is in the early stages of planning to build a second fire station in the southern corridor, where fire response times are the slowest.