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Officials to explore fire dept. options

Town and village officials from Manlius and Pompey are scheduled to meet this Thursday to explore management alternatives for the Manlius Village Fire District. One idea includes establishing a fire commission with the two towns and village having a hand in appointing members.

"The village and the town expressed a lot of frustration during this year's budget with the fire departments," said Manlius Supervisor Mark Tetley, adding that both municipalities agreed the process needs improvement. "The village has expressed their concerns about being the direct manager of the Manlius Fire Department and they came to the town of Pompey and the town of Manlius to look into the idea of having a fire commission be the direct management."

The commission would play the same role as that of the village board's now, by working on and approving budgets, setting rates and managing long term planning for items such as capital expenses, building and equipment. The village of Manlius represents 22 percent of the taxpayers as does the town of Pompey, and the town represents 56 percent.

"We have 78 percent of people who are paying the bills for the Manlius Fire District that are not being represented," Tetley said. "The people who are sharing the tax burdens should have a share in the decision making. A fire commission will facilitate that."

The exploratory committee, as Tetley describes it, is just beginning. Input from various people will eventually be sought once the elected officials get a handle on what direction to take.

Additionally, Tetley said the potential establishment of a fire commission has nothing to do with the charges made by Onondaga County earlier this year against the Pompey Hill Fire District and fire department, and the village of Manlius and the Manlius Fire Department.

The county blames alleged negligence on the part of the fire departments and its fire department chiefs at the scene as the reason for the deaths of firefighters Timothy Lynch, 28 and John Ginochetti, 41 during a 2002 house fire on Sweet Road.

"We're just trying to figure out a better way of doing these budgets," Tetley said.

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