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East Syracuse to begin process of looking into creating a fire district

— At the May 19 East Syracuse Village Board meeting, the East Syracuse Fire Department gave its second presentation in six months to the board about the possibility of dissolving the fire department and creating a fire district.

Last fall, the fire department’s attorney Mark Butler outlined why the department believes the creation of a fire district is the best option for the village, town, residents and fire department. However, the timing wasn’t ideal: the village was in the midst of looking into the possibility of eliminating its police department and the town was already in the middle of its budget process.

This time around, Butler made a similar presentation, with a few modifications based on concerns that were made by residents and government officials in the fall.

“The advantages to the village are very significant in terms of monetary savings,” Butler said. “The fire department becomes a nonissue for your governance and there is a transparency that your board will have, along with the town board and the public, that doesn’t currently exist in terms of fire department governance and operations. We see this as a win-win-win.”

There has been tension between the village, its fire department and residents of the north end of the town of DeWitt that spans over many years, mainly because the fire department and some town residents believe that the village should be more transparent in how it spends its money on fire protection.

The town of DeWitt contracts with the village of East Syracuse for fire protection on the north part of the town. This fire district covers not only the village and parts of Erie Boulevard, but neighborhoods in the town of DeWitt like Park Hill and Franklin Park.

As a part of that contract, the town gives the village $1 million every year to spend on fire protection. The fire department claims that in 2013, it found that about $250,000 in reserves that it should have been receiving was not there.

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