B'ville fire department merger still under discussion

— There was a full house at last Wednesday’s public hearing regarding a proposed extension to the Lysander Fire District into the Smokey Hollow and Northern fire protection districts in Lysander and Van Buren, respectively.

After hearing comments from the public, Lysander and Van Buren officials announced they would not be making a decision and are still considering the proposed merger between the Baldwinsville Volunteer Fire Company and Lysander Fire Department.

The proposal is to merge the Smokey Hollow Fire Protection District in Lysander and the Northern Fire Protection District in Van Buren, which currently receive protection from the BVFC, with the Lysander Fire District. This proposal came to fruition after a study conducted by Dallessandro & Associates in 2011 suggested that Baldwinsville and Lysander consider forming a joint fire district. The purpose: to provide better coverage to residents through shared equipment, services and volunteers.

Mark Butler, the attorney representing both the BVFC and LFD, gave a presentation followed by a question and answer session to the many residents who came out to learn more about the merger. He also discussed how the proposal would impact property taxes for those residing in the effected areas.

Property owners within the Lysander Fire District currently pay a rate of $2.62 per $1,000 of assessed value; property owners within the Smokey Hollow Fire Protection District pay $1.228 per $1,000 of assessed value; and property owners within the Northern Fire Protection District pay $1.219 per $1,000 of assessed value. Should the merger be approved, the new tax rate would be $1.67 per $1,000 for every property owner within the new North West Fire District beginning Jan. 1, 2014.

One of the major factors in the budget for the proposed district is $200,000 in capital reserves, a move Butler said was necessary because the BVFC has no savings to rely on in the event of an emergency such as needing to purchase replacement equipment.

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