East Syracuse (WSYR-TV) – It’s been three years and the East Syracuse Fire Department says it doesn’t want to wait any longer to be able to break away from the village.
The department voted almost unanimously in November of 2010 to ask the village to dissolve the department and establish a fire district.
A forum was held Thursday night to educate the public about the tax money they believe the move will save.
Department leaders say becoming a district isn’t as drastic as it may sound. If the bell rings, they’ll still respond with the same apparatus and from the same stations – the response will be the same.
However, the village board would no longer oversee the department, nor would it control the budget. They would contract with the department, while the Town of DeWitt would pay the new district for service of the northern part of the town, which it currently pays to the village.
"All the money they bring in is used for fire service or returned to the tax base for the following year, where now the five people that oversee the fire department are overseeing the DPW, the Parks Department anything else that goes on inside the Village. The money that's left at the end of the year goes into the general fund and nobody ever sees it again,” said East Syracuse Fire Department Captain Mike Cramer.
Cramer says a fire district would save the taxpayers about $200,000 a year and give them a direct vote over each purchase and yearly budget of the department – something they don’t have now.
He says the village government would be able to take one of its larger departments off of its books.
“The easiest thing for them to save money on is emergency service. Dissolve your police departments and combine with your towns and counties, dissolve your fire departments, create fire districts or private corporations. It’s the easiest way for a village to save money and still exist,” Cramer said.
The mayor says they haven’t researched the plan and that they have no timeframe for when they will.
He says keeping the fire department is no financial risk to the village and that making the change only shifts the tax burden from one agency to another, but doesn’t lessen the cost, which Cramer and fire officials dispute.