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B'ville fire departments prepare for public hearing on merger

— Benefits of the proposed consolidation include sharing of fire-fighting equipment and addressing building needs (possible relocation and retirement of some buildings), both cost saving measures, as well as possible re-assignment of firefighters to provide better coverage.

“I personally feel that consolidation can be a good thing,” Perkins said. “What most people don't understand is that the cost of fire protection is expensive and there are many unfunded mandates that we have to comply with. With a fire protection district, which is what Baldwinsville is, the final liability rests with town government. The towns do not want to be in the fire protection business or responsible for it. With the recent 2 percent cap on taxes, the fire tax in a fire protection district figures into that cap for a town’s total budget. In a fire district, that would be the responsibility of the district.”

A joint public hearing regarding the merger will be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 30, at the BVFC Fire Station No. 1, 7911 Crego Road, Van Buren. Residents of both Lysander and Van Buren are encouraged to attend the hearing and voice opinions. In order for the merger to happen, both town boards need to approve the formation of the North West Fire District, which would take effect April 1.

“The fire service is constantly changing,” Perkins said. “I'm sure most of us would rather have our fire departments depicted as some Norman Rockwell painting of years gone by, but the reality is that if we are going to succeed and continue to grow as a viable volunteer organization, we have to change.”

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