Supervisor Hammond called to order a regular meeting of the board at 7:30 PM in the Macedon Town Hall. Meeting minutes from the September 26th and October 3rd meetings were approved, as presented. The Police Department and Town Clerk’s September reports were also accepted, as presented. Reported correspondence included 2 letters from the DOT, acknowledging receipt of the town’s request for a speed limit reduction on Alderman and Canandaigua Roads, stating that upon completion of the town board will be notified. A letter was also received from the NYS Ag & Markets regarding the Lollypop Farms inspection, which earned a satisfactory rating. Public comment was offered from a village resident, Mr. Rob Kelsey, who is a member of the Village Pride Committee. He reported that the village website contains a list of businesses located within the village, and requested the town also make a list of businesses within the town on its website, with the two websites then linked to each other to maximize business potential. Councilman Maul and Councilwoman Pagano both agreed that this is a great idea, and volunteered to work together to compile the list and post it on the town website.
Macedon Town Ambulance Director, Mr. Paul Harkness, came before the board with a request to start an Explorer Program for ages 15-21, who are interested in learning more about the medical field. The board approved this request, as well as the writing of an acceptance letter to begin the program.
At 7:45 a public hearing for the proposed Fire Company “South Macedon Fire and Rescue” was conducted. Town Attorney, Mr. David Fulvio, initially explained that the purpose of the hearing is to determine whether or not the town board will approve of, and further endorse the corporation. He explained that, by law, this is the first step which needs to be taken in order for the proposed fire company to move forward with a business plan, budget, etc.
Residents came before the town board and spoke out in favor of the proposed new fire company. Mr. Jim Byron stated that “I see value in a south side fire department; though I am not sure there will be enough volunteers to support it.” Ms. Renee Herrmann explained to those in attendance that she has attended many meetings and public hearings. She explained that she has also done hours of research outside of the meetings, and explained what she learned. In detailed chronology she cited the events as they occurred, and how the town board repeatedly has requested, in a public forum, a reasonable fire contract from the village board. She explained how, despite the reasonable requests, the village board still wasn’t signing. She stated that, in her opinion, it is not unreasonable for the town to ask for financial statements, because they are simply doing their due diligence as elected officials and looking out for the taxpayer’s best interests. She also remarked that it is difficult watching the town board bear the blame repeatedly, when “This is an issue in the village, and you’re doing this to yourselves.” Ms. Hermann then turned towards those in attendance, and implored, “You’re not getting the whole story from your representatives. Hold them accountable, just like you’re coming to the town and holding the town accountable.”
Residents opposed to the creation of a new fire company also came before the board and voiced concerns such as an increase in taxes, the cost of additional equipment, a shortage of volunteers, a divide in the community between fire departments, and concern that the establishment of the new fire company is a political move and not one strictly in favor of public safety. Former village board member, Ms. Marcy Frey commented “I’m really disappointed that the [village and town] boards have not been able to come together and play nice in the sandbox. I feel like we have gotten to the point where two fire departments are now brother against brother, and I just hope we can get past this.” Macedon Village Trustee, Mr. Dave Kelly, commented that he has served in the Macedon Fire Department for 38 years, and that the department has always served the community well. He commented that the establishment of a new fire company is unnecessary and wrong, and that the volunteers are worried they won’t have a department to serve in anymore. Village Trustee, Mr. Dave Sliney, stated “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.” He then remarked that after reflecting upon the history, wherein the town has systematically taken over the police department, then established a town ambulance, is suing the village over sewer plant ownership, and is now trying to establish a new fire company, coupled with remarks made during the recent town board budget workshop meeting, he is growing increasingly concerned. He stated “These actions seem to say the village is incapable of providing these services, and that the town wishes to dissolve the village.”
Macedon Fire Department firefighter, Mr. Gil Magee, read a prepared statement on behalf of the Macedon Fire Department, which stated the town signed a five-year contract with the Macedon Center Fire Department, but has stated it is not renewing the annual one-year contract with the Macedon FD. The department also reported that the town has been soliciting firefighters, and has begun a discussion to shut down the fire department causing firefighters to join the intermediate department for fear of later being forced to anyway. He also stated that the volunteer fire department has been serving the community from a central location on the south side of the canal, and a separation would offer no advantage. Additionally he cited that the town cannot justify the “significant cost to the taxpayers that will come from shutting down the village fire department and creating a new one. We do not believe changes are needed or wanted, and are calling for the renewal of the existing one year contract.”
After reading the statement, he then asked, the town board; “What exactly have we done as a Fire Department that would cause you to replace us?” Supervisor Hammond replied “Nothing. We have held meetings, made agreements, and unfortunately we were unable to move forward.” Councilman Maul remarked that the town board “always planned to sign the contract”, but that unfortunately the contact is with the village board, and not the fire department, which is where the problem lies.
Macedon Village Mayor Cramer was present and addressed the town board, stating that she would share a statement which had been prepared by the village board. In her statement ,Ms. Cramer remarked that the establishment of the aforementioned fire company would eventually force the Macedon FD out of business, while costing taxpayers approximately $1 million. She also stated that it makes no sense to shut down an existing fire department and create a new fire department, especially when a study has not been conducted. Town Board Supervisor, Mr. Bill Hammond, responded that these numbers are “purely speculations” and no numbers have yet been discussed. The public hearing was closed at 8:30 PM.
After the hearing was closed, Town Councilman, Mr. Dave Maul, took the time to respond to some of the comments offered during the hearing. He stated that the theme of the evening seemed to be that the town is trying to dissolve the village, and said he simply isn’t sure how this equates. He also noted that he, personally, resents being accused of not caring about public safety, because it is a top priority of the town board, and always has been. In fact, he cited the first public hearing regarding Macedon fire protection when 150 residents came forward to speak, and their message was largely that of safety, with residents saying the town and village should “do what it takes” to protect the community.
He did, however, acknowledge that maybe the difference is that a different group came forward for the current hearing. He explained that all messages factor into the board’s thinking, and assured the public that the tax rate of the village will not be impacted by this decision. He further explained that he is also disappointed that the two boards are unable to get along well, and while he noted that the town is likely not without some fault, he also explained that the town board has done its part to extend the olive branch. He confirmed that he did say the town would sign a fire contract with the village, and that the town would have offered a contract to the village, but that he was unsure the village would have signed it. Lastly he clarified that the town board has never solicited firefighters to leave their fire department, but that it is his responsibility as an elected official to find the best service for the best value, and if a new group offers another option, then it is the duty of the town board to consider it. “Ultimately we have to ask ourselves, ‘Do we consider them as someone we can negotiate with?’, and that is all a corporation recognition requires.”
At that, the board voted unanimously to approve the adoption of a corporation named “South Macedon Fire and Rescue”, naming James J. Phillips, Kira L. Allen, and Shellean R. Carr as the names of the persons signing the certificate of incorporation. After the vote, Supervisor Hammond remarked that “While the residents of the village enjoy 70% ownership of their fire department, so should the residents of the town.” Councilman Kenyon also commented that “More is better; one is not mutually exclusive of the other, and the cost is yet to be determined.”
During the Round Table portion of the meeting, Councilman Kenyon complimented the Highway Department on the recent culvert work which has been completed.
Councilman McEwen reported that the temporary repairs have been made to the community room floor, and he has received quotes for the permanent work.
Councilwoman Pagano reported that the Macedon Messenger is out, and extra copies are available in the library. Additionally she reminded residents to shop locally during the upcoming holiday season with local merchants.
Highway Superintendent, Mr. Dick Roets, reported that the department is completing construction season projects, preparing tucks for the winter season, pricing out rock salt for the roads, and is expecting the town’s new 10-wheeler in mid-November.
The board then approved the following business items and resolutions:
– Approval of the preliminary 2014 Budget
– Approval to close Bullis Park and its facilities on October 30, 2013
– The Public Hearing for Village of Macedon Fire Protection Services was rescinded and will be rescheduled.
– Approval of the Senior Citizen Group Appointments with a term of October 1, 2013-September 30, 2014 Appointments were named as follows: President- Sandy Ciaccia, Vice-President- Ernestine Rogers, Treasurer-Joscelyn Moody, Secretery- Eunice Buss, Chaplain- Karen Yatteau, Historian-Terri Loessberg, Trip Director- Nancy Jennings, and Sunshine- Barbara Putnam
– Approval of the Incorporation the “South Macedon Fire and Rescue” within the Macedon Fire Protection District
– Payment of Claims
No other business came before the board and the public meeting was adjourned at 8:45 PM for the board to then meet in Executive Session regarding a personnel issue. The next Macedon Town Board meeting will be held on Thursday, October 24th at 7:30 PM in the Macedon Town Hall.
By Becky Block