Town looks into fitness center use
The Skaneateles Town Board decided to fund community center memberships for Mottville firemen in 2008, and will look into how much the memberships are costing the town during the coming year. The board had originally planned to pass a resolution last Thursday to begin charging the membership fees to the fire district, but after opposition from members of the fire department and others in the community, decided to look into the issue further.
In a resolution in Dec. 2005, the board voted unanimously to give the firemen from both the Skaneateles and Mottville Fire Departments free memberships to the community center. This arose after plans to build a fitness center in the new firehouse were rejected.
The town began taking the cost of the memberships for the Skaneateles fireman out of the fire department budget, but was funding the Mottville memberships out of the general fund.
The Mottville and Skaneateles Fire Departments were unaware that a cost was being incurred because the original resolution stated that the memberships would be free and no mention of charging the fire district came up at the meeting in 2005 or until last week's meeting.
There are less than 10 volunteer firemen that use the facility and a few have purchased memberships for their families as a result of this arrangement. Mottville Fire Chief Tim Baker spoke at the meeting on behalf of the department and was concerned that the memberships would come out of the fire department's operating budget, which would be a burden for the small volunteer squad.
"We are finishing up our second year in this membership from the town," Baker said, "During that time I have not heard one person in this community say a negative word about the fire fighter's membership. We put in a lot of time for no pay. Yes, it's by our choice but it was nice to see the town government do something in return for all the hours we put in to provide fire protection to the community."