Villages hold talks on joint fire district

The Manlius and Fayetteville village boards met independently last week to approve a Memorandum of Understanding that authorizes village officials to continue talks on creating a joint fire district.

The merger, which would most likely begin in 2010 if all goes as planned, would involve creating a six-person board of fire commissioners, with one person representing the town of Manlius, one for the town of Pompey and two commissioners each from the villages of Manlius and Fayetteville. Each fire department would still maintain its own identity, but would be operated under the umbrella of one fire district. Fire service taxes, which now differ by 61 cents between village and town residents, would be equalized.

The Oct. 14 Manlius Village Board vote came in 6-1, with Trustee Natalie Miner opposed. At the Oct. 15 Fayetteville Board meeting, the MOU was approved 4-1, with Trustee Chris Randall voting against the contract.

While Miner said she liked the concept, she said she believed more time was needed to fine tune the details, having been provided less than a day to review the document. The board needs to get away from the "vote now or the world will end mentality," she said.

In Fayetteville, Randall's concerns ran similar and even stronger.

"A large part of my dissension came from the [MOU]," he said in a follow-up interview, noting that he too received the agreement too late to give it a thorough review before the board meeting. "It's not complete, and it's authorizing the mayor to tie all the trustees' hands."

Randall said trustees were told the one-page legal document, which, according to Randall, authorizes Fayetteville Mayor Mark Olson to be the sole negotiator, was created in order to move forward with talks between the villages and towns. But when Randall asked Fayetteville Village Attorney Ted Spencer about it, Spencer said that to his knowledge, the document was not needed.

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