Are we in the town of Pomfret being misled and blindsided with an amplified cost in our fire protection?
This dialogue continues to be evaded with a one-sided last minute increased proposal from the village. And yet while serving on the town board and reviewing the fire reports we found emergency calls were progressively increasing in the village while staying flat in the town, therefore we asked for a discussion to devise a fair solution. The village stated then it uses the assessed values of the town's and village's properties in their calculations; however they suitably leave out a large portion of in-village properties. Some of the most highly valuable assets within the village, the college and other non-taxable property, are omitted from the calculation. SUNY Fredonia has to be the largest asset and surely generates a large amount of emergency calls. Guaranteed they will not be ignored when they call on the village for these amenities.
The college contributes no tax dollars to the village budget in support of the fire department, which they use at their leisure in lieu of setting up their own.
Despite this development, the town's cost increases proportionately to the village in every contract. The request from the town has repeatedly been to revisit a more equitable distribution of monies but this has never gotten further than a short-lived discussion. There are also some additional examples that show how this discourse is not being represented honestly.
The mayor made the statement at a recent village board meeting the village is open to discussing the terms of the contract with the town. Really? Then why do they continue discussions independently in executive sessions with an established contract presented to the town board yet again at the 11th hour.
The mayor should also be informed that residents in the newly formed north end water district are paying for the installation of the 110 new fire hydrants as part of their districts cost. This was presented by Mayor Stephen Keefe as if it was a gift from the village. This was not the case.
Fact is when there is a fire in a town water district, water usage would most likely be billed to the specific district at two times the village water rate as it passes through a town master meter. Another unmentioned consideration is the new hydrants may well reduce the need for additional fire equipment such as tankers.
Surely, the services of the fire department are greatly treasured by the residents of the town of Pomfret. There never has been a dispute about the value and dedication of the paid and volunteer members or their ability to respond outside of the village. Still it is not an unreasonable request for the village to re-evaluate the way the town's portion of the fire contract is calculated due to the increased calls with in the village.
That is what the town has frequently questioned and has continuously received overdue promises for discussion from village officials. Public meetings are advertised in the local newspaper as per open meeting laws. Please watch for the time and date and attend the next scheduled hearing for your Pomfret fire district contract and let your alarms be heard.
Hats off to the town board for holding the village's feet to the fire!
Charles Civiletto is former Pomfret Town Board member and resident.