Dec 19, 2011 Amanda Seef Uncategorized
The fate of the three fire departments and one fire district in the town of Manlius could be decided by a committee next year.
An implementation advisory committee has been meeting since the spring when a fire study, commissioned by the town, was completed. That study by Ron Graner, of Georgia, strongly recommended the formation of a joint fire district to improve efficiency and save taxpayer money.
Supervisor Ed Theobald said the committee has not come to any conclusions, but iscurrently studying the financials of two kinds of consolidation — operational and jurisdictional.
The first option, he said, would be an operational joint district. The three departments, Manlius, Fayetteville and Minoa, and the Kirkville Fire District would partner for purchasing power.
The second option the Implementation Advisory Committee is considering is a jurisdictional consolidation. All fire companies in Manlius would dissolve and create one large district covering all of Manlius and parts of the town of Pompey, already covered by the Manlius Fire Department.
Currently, the fire departments report to their corresponding village to control the purse-strings. Should a district be put into place, an elected board of commissioners would control the motions of the fire departments.
“To think everything is fine as it is can sometimes be negative at the end,” Theobald said.
One concern, as outlined by Graner in his 113-page report, is the departments would lose their identification in the town. Specifically, Minoa and Kirkville were concerned with a potential merger, Graner reported.
“With either option, they wouldn’t lose their identification,” Theobald said.
The implementation committee, which consists of representatives from each municipality, will be looking at three main things as they prepare their final plan: a structure of a district, the budgets of the fire departments, villages and towns and other districts that have consolidated. A Rochester-area fire district created in 2005 that consolidated three fire protection districts was suggested to Manlius to study.
“We have to see if what we are doing is fiscally responsible without losing any service,” Theobald said.
Currently, representatives from the fire department do not serve on the implementation committee, something the fire departments have taken issue with.
“In my honest opinion, if they’re not going to include us in the process and they’re not going to let us be part of what they’re trying to do, I think it should just go away. The whole study should go away,” said Manlius Fire Chief Paul Whorrall.
Whorrall, who has been active in the Manlius Fire Department for more than 40 years, said he is undecided on which plan he thinks may be better for the town.
“I need to see, in writing, what they plan to implement or what they plan to present to the fire departments before I can say which one is the best way to go,” he said. “We’re talking about four different departments, three different companies. Everybody has to agree, it has to be those organizations that have to agree.”
The implementation committee is scheduled to meet again Feb. 4. Theobald said though the process has been slow — the study was commissioned in 2008 — he is hopeful the careful attention paid will assist in the end.
“Due diligence is key in any operation,” Theobald said. “I know there are people who will be thinking this is not moving fast enough. We want to do it right, we don’t want to do it quick. If this takes a year, we want to make sure we do it right.”
Multiple calls to the Minoa and Fayetteville fire departments requesting comment were not returned.