Apr 08, 2013 Erin Wisneski Uncategorized
Lysander and Van Buren officials are moving forward with the creation of a North West Fire District.
The proposed merger between the Baldwinsville Volunteer Fire Company and Lysander Fire Department would extend the Lysander Fire District into the Northern Fire Protection District, which stretches across the entire northern portion of the town of Van Buren south to Connors Road and the southern border of Village Green, and the Smokey Hollow Fire Protection District, which is bordered by Sixty, Kellogg and Oswego roads in Lysander. The Smokey Hollow Fire and Northern fire protection districts currently receive protection from the BVFC.
The proposed merger 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.
According to Van Buren Supervisor Claude Sykes, “the people we have entrusted to provide our fire and emergency services have indicated to us that in order to continue to provide the level of these services that we need and expect, they will require additional monies to meet these expectations. A review of their financials indicate that the current Baldwinsville Fire Company budget has no reserves built in for the purchase of future equipment and, regardless of whether this alternative or some other were implemented, the fire rates have to increase.”
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. 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.
Both towns have also co-applied for a 2012-13 Local Government Efficiency Implementation Grant Program administered through the New York State Department of State with the Lysander Fire District named as lead applicant. If awarded, the $1,100,000 grant will help the newly formed district to purchase gear and equipment that will help standardize operations within the expanded district to comply with National Fire Protection Association mandates. It will also provide funds for infrastructure improvements, which will help consolidate services while improving efficiency of fire services.
In addition to co-applying for the grant, each town has also scheduled a public hearing to dissolve existing fire protection districts within their towns in order to move forward with the expansion of the Lysander Fire District, which will be renamed the North West Fire District once all the legwork is complete.
Lysander will hold a public hearing regarding the dissolution of the Smokey Hollow Fire Protection District at 7 p.m. April 22, at the Lysander Town Hall, 8220 Loop Road, Radisson. Van Buren will hold a public hearing regarding the dissolution of the Northern Fire Protection District at 7:30 p.m. May 7, at the Van Buren Town Hall, corner of Van Buren and Ellsworth roads.
Should the districts be dissolved and the North West Fire District formed, the BVFC will work hand-in-hand with the Lysander Fire Department to provide fire protection services to the expanded fire district, which would answer to an elected board of fire commissioners. Currently, the fire protection districts answer to a board of directors and, ultimately, their respective town boards.
“A commissioner run fire district, if passed, can offer more transparency than having the fire cost buried on a line within the town budget, but it will require the public to be involved and pay attention and offer their input to the commissioner board,” Sykes said.
The anticipated date of implementation of the proposed merger is 12 a.m. June 1.
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