By Susan Chiappone
FREDONIA – Cuts are running deep into Fredonia budget talks, with the Village Board meeting Monday to continue to slice away.
Fire Chief Richard Butts said he subtracted $695,000 from his initial budget proposal.
“The initial proposal was slim, but we will try to do without these items,” he said. “These items are necessary, and they will be back in future budgets.”
Fredonia has eight paid firefighter positions and two part-time paid positions. The volunteer fire company, led by company President Kurt Maytum, has about 120 members.
No Fire Department positions were eliminated as the result of Monday’s talks. Cuts throughout the village are expected because of the expected loss of about $1.5 million in funding with the closing of the Carriage House, whose parent company is ConAgra.
This was the third round of talks for the chief and trustees, who are looking to make up the shortfall and have a new budget ready to approve in the next few weeks.
One of the major line items cut was funding toward a new tanker truck. Smaller items – including some gear and $50,000 to repair the concrete in front of the fire hall – were all part of the concessions.
One of the items remaining in the budget was a mechanical lift for the ambulance. The $36,000 cost will be shared by the village and the volunteer company. The volunteers will fund their share through donations.
Butts and Maytum said hopes are to generate revenue by having the village become a paid ambulance service. Currently, certification toward this end is being investigated.
Butts said the village’s paid members are already paramedics and would be able to bill as an advanced life-support ambulance service. The company has applied for a billing account with Medicare and is talking to other third-party billing agencies. If the model and program are approved by the Village Board, the process still could take six to nine months before any revenue is generated. Butts estimated the annual revenue under the arrangement at $185,000.