At a special meeting held Thursday night at the Town of Macedon meeting room, crowds were on hand for a public hearing on contracts for Fire Protection with the newly formed South Macedon Fire Association.
First to speak was J.J. Phillips, President of the South Macedon Fire and Rescue.
In a prepared statement Phillips said intoduced the Board of Directors for the new fire Association. Phillips is President, Shelly Carr – secretary, and Kira Allen-Treasurer. He also intro duced Joe Lusardi and Tony Cuffe who will be serving as line officers in the department in addition to a number of our volunteers.
He felt he had to clear up a things, hoods: first, the new fire department was formed with the full knowledge of the line officers of the existing Village Fire Department. “We stand before you today as former line officers of the Village Department. For anyone to say that there is no call from the firematic community to suggest this change in contractual arrangement is a gross mischaracterization. We make this proposal voluntarily as independent minded firefighters not beholden to any politician or board. We were not solicited, talked into, or otherwise unduly influenced in our decision to be here tonight. We stand here to propose a new way forward with a new attitude and a new vision.” “We honor and respect the long history of the fire services in Macedon by striving to make it serve the residents and businesses of the Town in a more direct and responsible manner for the next 100 years. We don’t seek to tear down, we seek to build up. We ask the Town Board tonight to approve the two contracts with our Department as presented, so that we may continue our preparatory work to serve the community.”
He noted that, while it will cost more than is currently spent. “We are simply asking for the Macedon Fire Protection district to be funded on par with the Macedon Center District.”
Phillips noted that residents will get an independent self-governing fire department directly responsible to the citizens paying the taxes in the districts in question, with no unnecessary intermediate governmental layers dictating fire department policy and procedure; an end to territorialism and bickering; a new unprecedented relationship between the department and the Macedon Center Fire Department, the Macedon Town Ambulance and Macedon Police.
“We will participate in regular and ongoing inter-agency trainings with the Macedon Center Fire Department, Macedon Town Ambulance and the Macedon Police Department. This has never been the case in the past. We will coordinate all our major fire equipment purchases with Macedon Center Fire Department to ensure there is no unnecessary duplication of expensive specialized fire equipment or apparatus in the future within the Town.
4. You will get a department that builds direct equity in ownership of its equipment, apparatus, land and buildings. Every penny spent on this department will be directly owned and managed by firemen in the best interest of the community, not by politicians who profess to know what’s best for people that can’t even vote for them.”
Phillips pointed out that, after 114 years, the Village Fire Department doesn’t any land. Expansion of their existing building is extremely problematic. Expenditure of any additional money on a building that is on leased land makes no sense. The department doesn’t own or control any of its trucks or equipment. Again, expenditure of additional money on trucks and equipment not owned by the fire department is questionable at best. Although they claim a 20 year truck replacement, the reality is they have a large debt on their newest truck, and they have o more trucks already past replacement date, with no substantial money saved.”
“Let’s contrast that with the Macedon Center Fire Department, which has not been in existence as long. Macedon Center owns all their trucks outright. Macedon Center owns their building outright. They own the land they sit on. They have no significant debts. They save their money in advance for truck purchases and have paid cash for their trucks in the past. We choose to model our business plan in that light, not the prior.”
“Our short term goals are simple. Upon adoption of our contracts by the Town Board, we will immediately:
1. Acquire appropriate fire apparatus and support equipment adequate to maintain the existing ISO ratings of the district.
2. Formally bring on board, equip and train our volunteers.
3. Seek temporary housing in an appropriate location to establish our department.
4. Do the above as a team effort in a collaborative environment with Macedon Center.
5. Be ready to respond on January 1, 2014.”
“Our long term goals are to build a permanent fire hall on land that we directly own, and continue to build on our cooperative efforts with our fellow emergency responders. Another long term goal will be to improve our ISO rating by one level across both districts north and south in conjunction with Macedon Center. This is a forward looking goal that will save taxpayers money long term. In summary, We ask the Town Board to make a bold and historic decision this evening. Empower the firemen in our community to make the best decisions moving forward.”
Dave Kelly read a statement on behalf of the Macedon Fire Department:
He said that the Town Board was considering a five-year contract with a newly formed Fire Department that has never responded to a single fire.
“Traditionally, this Town Board has paid our Volunteer Fire Department about $95,000 per year under a one year contract. Tonight, this Town Board is considering a five year commitment to the new company that starts at $110,000 in 2014 and goes up to $123,806 in 2018.”
“No one in modern times has formed an effective all volunteer fire company in Upstate New York. Yet this Town Board thinks it knows better. The Village of Macedon Volunteer Fire Department has proudly protected the Village of Macedon and a large portion of the Town of Macedon south of the Erie Canal for over 114 years. It has always done so on an all-volunteer basis.
This Town Board is clearly moving to destroy the Village of Macedon Volunteer Fire Department. There is no legitimate purpose for these actions.
We ask that you abandon this course of action and renew your contract with the Village of Macedon Volunteer Fire Department under the same terms and conditions as were used last year. We will happily serve without price increase. This would be a substantial improvement over your current offer of nothing.
The Village of Macedon Volunteer Fire Department believes that the interests of our community, including the Town of Macedon, are best served by our continuing to function as we are. He noted that they see no need to establish a new fire station at a different location at this time. We are centrally located to the area we currently serve south of the Erie Canal. As members of the Village of Macedon Volunteer Fire Department, we dedicate a significant part of our lives to the service of our community. We believe that our service includes standing for what we believe is in the best interests of our community. We are aware of no calls from the firemanic community for the changes being pursued by the Town.”
“We do not believe these changes are needed. We call upon the residents of the Village and Town of Macedon to join us in resisting the continued expenditure of taxpayer dollars on these efforts. We call for the renewal of our annual fire protection agreement with the Town.
We are happy to make all of our books and records available for review by the Town and the general public.”
Following these statements and others from members of the community, the Macedon Town Board closed the hearing and put fire contracts with South Macedon to a vote. The vote for fire protection by this newly formed association was unanimous.
A budget hearing and presentation was also held at the meeting and public comment will continue through November 14 (next meeting), where the budget will be put to a vote.