MACEDON — The Village Board has every intention of keeping its fire department, according to Mayor Marie Cramer, despite losing its fire-protection contract with the town.
“We’re definitely committed to keep it open,” Cramer said. “We are committed in keeping this once town-wide 100 percent volunteer fire department institution that has served this community for 113 years.”
Despite the loss of its primary source of revenue in a $100,000 town contract, the Village Fire Department is continuing day-to-day operations like always, said Fire Chief Tim Wilcox. The only thing that has really changed, he said, is that they stay inside the village except when called to help a neighboring department.
The village department had served the south fire district under contract with the town through the end of 2013. Last April, the town signed a new contract with Macedon Center for the south district, and then in November Town Board members signed two more contracts with the newly formed South Macedon Fire Department to cover the same area with Macedon Center, north and south of the canal. The five-year contracts took effect on Jan. 1.
With the new fire contracts in place for South Macedon and Macedon Center, residents in the fire district north of the canal saw a 15 percent increase in the district’s fire-tax rate — from 67 cents per $1,000 of assessed value to 77 cents. In the south district, the fire protection tax rose 88 percent, from 49 cents per $1,000 of assessed value to 92 cents. For a homeowner in the south district with a house assessed at $100,000, the tax bill would rise from $49 to $92 a year for fire protection.
Cramer and Wilcox won’t deny the loss of the town contract was a big blow, but as they entered the new year, the village fire department has discovered supporters they never knew existed.
“The community has always been behind us,” Wilcox said. “We’ve been approached by several community members who want to hold fundraisers for us.”
The department is looking at several fundraising ideas to help garner financial support for the future. Department volunteers are in it for the long haul, he added, and they have even signed up some new members to bolster their ranks.
But the mayor and fire chief know it will be a tough road going forward.
“As we approach our budget workshop, we will need to look at ways to reduce expenditures within the fire department budget,” Cramer said.
Bond payments on the department’s new ladder truck will continue to be paid exclusively by the village taxpayers, Cramer added, but due to the severe loss in revenue, the reserve amount appropriated for truck replacement will be reduced, ultimately resulting in higher bond or loan requests for future fire truck purchases.
In the meantime, the Village Board is joining the fire department in thinking creatively to generate money to sustain the department. Cramer said it is her hope that they can avoid raising taxes to keep the fire department afloat.
“We will need the community’s full support for the fundraisers to be effective,” she said. “I believe in this great Macedon community, and I believe in the end, things will be put right and once again it will be a thriving whole community with two responsible municipalities that work for and with the people.”
To show your support, the Macedon Village Fire Department holds an all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast on the third Sunday of every month from 8 a.m. to noon at their fire hall, 1 Canal Park in the village.
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