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Fire district consolidation approved

— Van Buren’s Southeastern Fire Protection District has joined forces with Geddes’ Lakeside Fire District.

After holding a joint public hearing on June 19, Van Buren officials voted unanimously to adopt a consolidation agreement between the SFPD and LFD in an effort to streamline services.

Lakeside Fire Commissioner Steve Irwin said the consolidation ensures the district’s revenue stream and will allow them to make long term investments for the fire department.

Prior to consolidation, fire protection for the SFPD was funded through a contract that had to be approved by the town board. Now, as part of the LFD, operations will be funded through taxes raised in the area of protection using a state formula.

According to Supervisor Sykes, Van Buren residents within the Lakeside Fire Protection District will see a 40 percent reduction in taxes as a result of this consolidation. Residents within the district will also be eligible to vote for representatives on the Lakeside Board of Fire Commissioners, which determines the cost of fire protection.

Van Buren Attorney Jeff Brown said there will be certain efficiencies by cutting out the town board layer and allowing the professionals in this area to take the lead. He added that liability will also be transferred to the district and be removed from the town.

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