The Clarence Town Board will consider higher amounts in its fire protection contracts with four volunteer fire companies that serve the town.
Representatives of the four companies – Clarence Center, Harris Hill, Swormville and Rapids – said the dollar amounts of their contracts have been unchanged for three years and they need increases. The Town Board was considering keeping the amounts flat for 2013.
The board set public hearings for Nov. 14 on the revised amounts. Public hearings on fire contracts were held at Wednesday’s board meeting, but the fire companies spoke against the amounts they were being asked to accept for 2013. By law, the board could not vote Wednesday on dollar amounts higher than what had been advertised for the public hearings.
“We’ve been good citizens,” said Joseph Schoellkopf Jr., an attorney for Clarence Center’s fire company. “We took the hit and did not ask for any increases in the contract , but we need an increase.”
Fire company representatives cited upcoming needs that include funds for new equipment and vehicles. Councilman Bernard J. Kolber said he did not feel the fire companies’ requests were large on a percentage basis, and he felt they are doing a responsible job managing their money.
The board will consider a contract of $800,000 for Clarence Center, instead of $775,000. The other changes to be considered are: $724,569 for Harris Hill, instead of $715,855; $220,648 for Swormville, instead of $212,849; and $42,626 for Rapids, instead of $40,500.
At the end of the meeting, Councilman Peter DiCostanzo praised the fire companies’ service but said he will vote against the revised contracts when they come up.
“For each of these contracts, I’ll show you in the contracts how they can do it for the same amount as they could with this year’s number,” he said. DiCostanzo also accused Kolber of “trying to appease” the fire companies and to show his appreciation for them by setting public hearings to consider the higher amounts.
“He didn’t do any work on the financial information, and if he tells you did, he’s lying,” DiCostanzo told the audience, triggering a testy exchange.
“You love to crunch numbers, but you don’t know how to run a business,” Kolber said. He said he took “umbrage” at DiCostanzo’s appeasement comment, saying he felt the fire companies had substantiated their requests for increases.
“They’ve all been flat for three years, and this is not a significant change,” he said.
In other business, the Town Board approved a law banning smoking in town parks.
The town will also seek Community Development Block Grant funds for the entrance to the Clarence Senior Center; sidewalks at various points in town; and the Rural Transit service.