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Board considers new contract with EAVES

The ambulance service with which the town of DeWitt contracts on a yearly basis wants the DeWitt Town Board to sign a five-year deal beginning in 2012.

The new contract would provide the East Area Volunteer Emergency Services with stability while it seeks funds to repair its dilapidating station on New Venture Gear Drive. Additionally, it would increase its chances to remain in existence.

"To have a five-year contract with EAVES is ensuring we'll still be here another five years," said Director of Operations Vincent Stevenson. The board's support would be seen as a vote of confidence toward the agency, he added. Stevenson has not yet sought the help of a financial institution because he is waiting on the board to make a decision.

Some councilors are hesitant to change the present arrangement due primarily to potential costs to taxpayers, while others see the modification as negligible. Contingencies could be written in the agreement that would protect both the town and EAVES should problems arise within those five contractual years.

"I don't see how it hurts us," said Councilor Kerry Mannion about the five-year contract. "If it falls apart, we have an out."

"Nobody's looking to replace EAVES," said Councilor Brian Schultz at the June 13 meeting. "[We] just want to make sure [the contract] is good for the town."

Supervisor Ed Michalenko supports Stevenson's request and said he finds EAVES services to be cost-effective and of reliable quality.

EAVES is comprised of volunteers and career staff, and has been serving residents of the East Syracuse Fire Protection District since 1973. This area includes all of the village of East Syracuse and a portion of the town of DeWitt.

Representatives from two competing agencies, TLC and Rural Metro, backed Stevenson and his request to the board at last week's meeting. Each agreed that EAVES provides a valuable service to the community, at an inexpensive rate. The contract between the town of DeWitt and Eaves is $250,000 per year. The amount would remain the same.

"This is a system that is not broken," Michalenko said. "From a dollars and cents standpoint, nothing has changed."

The board will make a decision at its July meeting; the date has not yet been set.

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