The social hall at the Brookfield Fire Department is back in business.
Township trustees authorized the accepting of bookings Feb. 8 after reaching a verbal agreement with the Brookfield Township Volunteer Fire Department, a nonprofit corporation, which will take over management of the township-owned hall.
Former Fire Chief Keith Barrett had managed the hall “as he was the most readily available to handle bookings,” said volunteer fire department Secretary Randy Richman.
Barrett retired in December after health issues kept him away from work for much of 2017. Trustees are preparing to search for a new chief.
The volunteer fire department formed a three-person committee to take over the hall management duties: Jim Richmond, Kenny Johnson and Aaron Kasiewicz.
As there has never been an agreement between the township trustees and the volunteers over running the hall, the trustees wanted one, said township Trustee Ron Haun.
“There were a few months where we were unable to take new bookings, due to finalizing paperwork with the township,” Richman said.
Trustees were concerned about the financial management of the hall, record keeping, cleaning and long-term viability, among other issues.
The trustees invited an attorney, Gill Blair, to the meeting which was attended by Richman, Richmond and Kasiewicz.
“Gil’s here for you guys as much as he is for us,” Haun said. “It’s all about trying to lend credibility to you guys.”
Richman said he wants to maintain the credibility of the volunteer fire department and be accountable to the community.
The trustees requested the keeping of a receipt book, an annual report and the reinstitution of a security deposit for people who rent the hall, but backed off on some other things. Haun suggested the department raise the rental rates and run the hall more like a business than a community service, but said he didn’t want to memorialize that in the agreement that will be signed between the trustees and the volunteers.
“That’s up to you guys,” Haun said.
Haun said he made the suggestions because he wants the hall to be self-sufficient and the volunteers to plan and save for major expenses, such as buying a new stove in the kitchen or repairing the roof.
Richman said he is not sure if the hall is self-sufficient.
“I think we need a year under our belts,” he said.
There are other concerns at play, officials said, such as increasing requirements by insurance companies. Blair said the volunteers need to have renters sign an agreement, even for free users such as the auxiliary, which holds funeral dinners in the hall.
“It’s just a document that says they’re here.” Blair said.
Suttles and Trustee Gary Lees said they were concerned about the practice of having full-time firefighters clean the hall, and then paying $50 to the firefighter’s union.
Blair said the practice probably is OK because the money does not go to the firefighters directly, and the union often spends that money for things the firefighters need, such as mattresses and cabinets at the fire station.
Blair was given the task of drawing up a written agreement that each party will act on.
“Everything’s rolling in the same direction,” Blair said.
Hall rental rates are $125 for nonprofit groups, $50 for township employees and $225 for everyone else. Call the fire department to 330-448-1000 to rent the hall.