Talks of joint fire district still favored

In October 2008, four municipalities met independently to approve a Memorandum of Understanding that would authorize village officials to continue talks on creating a joint fire district between the Fayetteville and Manlius fire departments. Those municipalities included the towns of Manlius and Pompey and the villages of Manlius and Fayetteville. Kirkville and the village of Minoa both declined to join in the merger.

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.

Since the initial discussions, there have been a series of meetings between officials on all boards to set up a steering committee and approve an economic study that would explore if this project is in the best interest of the communities -- both in cost savings and service.

"The police merger slowed the rate of growth in the cost of providing services to all residents," said Fayetteville Mayor Mark Olson. "This merger would have several benefits financially as well as operationally."

The Town of Manlius Police Department is the result of a merger back in 1995 with the villages of Minoa, Fayetteville and Manlius.

"The other item we need to remember is the fact that less and less people have the time to volunteer and the only way to provide the service is to hire career firefighters and paramedics," Olson said.

While the number of fire volunteers have decreased, call volume and operational expenses have risen dramatically in the past few years, according to Fire Chief Paul Hildrith.

"These and many other issues all have to be looked at and answered so we can move forward with the best fire and emergency services possible," Olson said.

Most recently, all four municipalities agreed on creating an 11-person steering committee comprised of the fire chiefs of both the Fayetteville and Manlius fire departments, a fire union representative, and both a citizen and board liaison to represent each municipality involved.

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