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The Times
  • Manheim, Salisbury reach agreement on fire contract

  • The Manheim Town Council has received word the Salisbury Volunteer Fire Department and its fire commission have accepted the town’s offer of a one-year contract for fire protection.

    Town Supervisor John Haughton said Wednesday evening the Salisbury department will receive $3,750 to provide fire protection to 1.5 square miles of the town of Manheim in 2013.

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  • The Manheim Town Council has received word the Salisbury Volunteer Fire Department and its fire commission have accepted the town’s offer of a one-year contract for fire protection.
    Town Supervisor John Haughton said Wednesday evening the Salisbury department will receive $3,750 to provide fire protection to 1.5 square miles of the town of Manheim in 2013.
    The contract was originally proposed earlier in the month, when Manheim accepted a one-year contract with a 3.5 percent increase for fire protection from the Little Falls Fire Department.
    Haughton also said Wednesday he has had discussions with the village of Dolgeville and the Dolgeville Volunteer Fire Department about a one-year contract with a 3.5 percent increase.
    “If it’s agreeable with the department and the village, 92 percent of the contract will be paid on Jan. 1, 2013, with the remaining eight percent of the contract paid on Jan. 1, 2014,” he said. “This is necessary because the 2013 budget was adopted prior to the end of negotiations.”
    Haughton said with one-year contracts in place with Dolgeville, Little Falls, Salisbury and St. Johnsville for fire protection, the town will continue to explore a restructuring of its fire districts.
    “If you look at what has happened in the past 10 years, the cost for fire protection has increased exorbitantly,” he said. “In the last 10 years, the town’s cost for fire protection has increased 110 percent. This type of increase is not sustainable. Something has to change, because the town can no longer continue to pay for sizable increases and stay within the two percent property tax cap.”
    “If you look at the numbers, they are nowhere near the rate of inflation,” said councilman Larry Austin. “They’re not in line with what is acceptable. Things are different than they used to be.”
    Haughton added the town’s current fire district boundaries were drawn up in 1939 and roads, equipment, firefighter training and building codes have all improved a great deal since then.
    “The town of Manheim is not the only town struggling with the cost of its fire protection contracts,” he said. “The state Comptroller’s Office recognized this was a problem in 2006 and issued a report. The comptroller’s office has a wealth of information on fire contracts and fire districts, and we will use this information as we begin work to work on finding a solution in time for the 2014 budget.”
    The town council last month conducted a public hearing on the town’s 2013 fire contracts, during which Haughton explained the council’s reasons for wanting to restructure the town’s fire districts.
    Under the restructuring the town would reduce the number of fire districts from four to three, with District No. 1 consisting of 20.25 square miles covered by the Dolgeville Volunteer Fire Department, District No. 2 consisting of 4.75 square miles covered by the St. Johnsville Volunteer Fire Department and District No. 3 consisting of three square miles covered by the Little Falls Fire Department.
    Page 2 of 2 - Under the terms of the agreement accepted by Salisbury, the town of Manheim must provide a map of the Salisbury Volunteer Fire Department’s coverage area and must inform the commission of its plans for 2014 by Aug. 31, 2013, so the commission can prepare for the coming year.

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