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East Syracuse Fire Department looks to dissolve from village by creating a fire district

— The East Syracuse Fire Department held an informational meeting on Oct. 3 where it outlined why the creation of a new fire district is the best option for the village, the residents and the department.

Former fire chief Mike Cramer said the department began the process of trying to form a fire district three years ago. In the fall of 2010, department members voted 40 to 3 to ask the village to dissolve the fire department and create a fire district. He said the village did not originally comply with the request, so the department worked on its own to compile the statistics and to pursue the issue, which led to the presentation given on Thursday.

The big problem for the department is that the money that should have been put away into reserves isn’t there. The fire department’s attorney Mark Butler explained that each year, the town of DeWitt hands over a certain amount to the village for fire protection. He said that fire department officials estimate that it costs roughly $750,000 to run the department. And in 2013, the town of DeWitt paid the village $1 million, but they’ve found that the $250,000 or so in reserves that they should have been getting are not there.

“Roughly $200,000 was supposed to be reserved on an annual basis,” Butler said. “Over the last seven years, if that had been done, it should add up to $1.4 million… A new rescue truck will cost between $700,000 and $800,000. The fire department leadership has found that there are no reserves. There is a need for new equipment, and the reality would mean a bond – further borrowing.”

Cramer said that a new fire district would save $250,000 overall. The district would cover the same area that the fire department previously responded to: the entirety of the village and parts of the town of DeWitt. He also said it would provide transparency so that taxpayers could see directly where their money is going.

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