FREDONIA – A two-year contract for fire and emergency services with the village of Fredonia was approved Tuesday at a special meeting of the Pomfret Town Board. The current contract was set to expire at midnight on Tuesday.
The 1 p.m. session in Town Hall was held after a public hearing. Several town residents spoke out about the contract and asked board members to consider contracting with other fire departments that are situated closer to their homes than Fredonia.
The $420,000 contract for 2014 has an increase of $5,000 in 2015. Some of the residents thought that coverage could be supplied for less money if contracts were awarded to other companies.
Charles Skinner said his home on Shumla Road is about six miles from Fredonia’s fire hall but only about three miles from Cassadaga’s. He said he had issues with the way emergency services are handled as well. He told council members that he had to wait for a paid ambulance service to transport his son when the local volunteers were already on the scene. The volunteers “were told they could not transport him,” said Skinner.
Ken Balling of Bear Lake Road said that Stockton’s fire volunteers are much closer to his home and would be the first to respond to his home. He said that he tried to get a fire district formed in the town of Pomfret more than 20 years ago.
“I tried for more than five years and got tired of it,” he said.
Balling said that the Fredonia Fire Department has to call rural volunteer companies to bring in tanker trucks with water to fight a fire in the areas outside the village. Several rural companies, including Stockton, Cassadaga, Brocton and Sheridan all have tanker trucks to haul water to locations where there are no hydrants.
“Realistically, you have to pass the contract, but in the next two years, let’s do something,” said Balling.
Councilwoman Patricia Christina said she would like to form a committee to look into the possibilities of other contracts. She said she would like more town residents to participate in meetings to talk about options for fire protection and emergency services.
“Right now we are in a situation where we have no exit,” said Christina.
Jim DeJoe said he would also like the town board to consider another method of paying for the contract other than on a property tax assessment.
“The system should be divided equally among all property owners,” he said.
Town Supervisor Don Steger agreed that the payment based on a property tax assessment may not seem fair.
Steger said that the $420,000 agreed to Tuesday is about one-third of the Fredonia Fire Department’s annual budget for 2014.
Fredonia’s fire department has a combination of paid firefighters and volunteers. The fire contract had been volleyed between the town of Pomfret and Fredonia Village board for several meetings.
Pomfret had sought a modification to a one-year contract. The request was turned down in Fredonia at the last regular meeting, when board members said they would only consider their original contract for two years.