MACEDON — The Macedon Town Board approved two contracts that will provide dual-toned fire protection coverage north and south of the Erie Canal.
The newly formed South Macedon Fire and Rescue presented two 5-year fire contracts to the Town Board for approval — both to take effect Jan. 1, 2014. The first covers the district on the south side of the Erie Canal minus the village at $110,000 for the first year of services and capping out at $123,806 in 2018. The second contract, for $20,000 and capping at $22,511 in 2018, will have the new department working with Macedon Center Fire Department on the north side of the canal in a fire protection partnership never before seen in the community, South Macedon member Joe Lusardi said.
Board members were in agreement that after hearing public comment at Thursday night’s public hearing, they were indeed making the right decision to seek a new vendor to provide the necessary fire protection to the fastest growing part of the town of Macedon.
“By going with South Macedon, it takes the politics out of it,” Councilwoman Sandy Pagano said, although admitting the decision was a difficult one. “It’s a win-win.”
Members of South Macedon in attendance at the meeting, including Lusardi and Association President J.J. Phillips, sat in relative quiet in the second row of chairs despite the heated discussion going on around them, answering the questions directed to them. Lusardi said approval of these contracts means South Macedon can move forward securing funds and equipment to be ready on Jan. 1 to provide fire protection to the district as promised in the contract.
Temporarily housed in the Macedon Town Barns, the new department has fitted 16 new members for turnout gear with five more members yet to be scheduled, plus they have a number of support staff. A total of 25 potential members, many of which were hesitant to volunteer for the Macedon Village Department due to the problems between town and village, have expressed interest in joining South Macedon. The department will have two trucks to start, which they expect to take delivery on within the next week, and plans to grow the department in the future.
What was clear at the meeting was the fact that the inability of the town and village boards to work together without bickering has brought the community to this moment in Macedon history when a new fire department was born and another faces an uncertain future.
“We’re here because of a lack of communication between two boards,” resident Renee Herman said. “That’s sad.”
In April, the town signed a 5-year agreement, effective Jan. 1, with Macedon Center to provide services to the south side of the canal — an area the village department has serviced for over 114 years. The village department’s contract for about $100,000, however, was not renewed, leaving the department and village wondering how to make ends meet.
For years, the village has developed a contract for the village department with the town for about 70 percent of the budget’s total and the village funds the rest. The budget is based on the assessed value of the district, so the town’s portion would rise or fall according to where assessments stood. At the end of the year, if there was money left over, it was placed in a truck reserve fund. Last year, over $12,000 went into the reserve fund. The department is on a 20-year cycle for truck replacement.
Not included in the town’s portion, according to paperwork received from the village, is $18,500 for worker’s comp and a total of $33,035 for the bond that was used to purchase a new truck for the village department. Together, they make up $41,535 of the $42,612.60 of the village’s portion of the budget. Some speculate the department can learn to survive on a smaller budget, others have doubts.
“We didn’t go out to bury any fire departments,” Lusardi said of the South Macedon members. “Our intentions — we wanted to save the district. The fire department shouldn’t have to be a pawn in a fight between two entities.”
Read more about what was said at last night’s meeting in next Wednesday’s Wayne Post.