Keefe wary of altered fire contract at this point

Two weeks remain in the current fire protection district contract between the village of Fredonia and the town of Pomfret, and Fredonia Mayor Stephen Keefe is concerned it is too late to consider alterations to a possible contract extension at this point.

Keefe made his concerns known at the end of Monday’s Fredonia Village Board special meeting after the OBSERVER asked him to comment on the contract, which will be discussed at the rescheduled Pomfret Town Board meeting on Wednesday.

“It’s not time to procrastinate on this anymore; it’s time to get things down on paper,” he said. “Especially with the holidays coming up and the weather being as bad as it has been lately.”

The town board canceled its Dec. 11 monthly meeting due to the recent wave of winter storms, thus delaying any talk over the contract to this coming Wednesday. The last time the town board officially convened was Nov. 6.

The day before the meeting was canceled, Town Councilwoman Ann Eckman confirmed to the OBSERVER that two options will be available for the board to consider: the original, two-year extension passed by Fredonia in late October, or an altered, one-year contract.

However, Keefe said he is wary of any altered contract due to the time crunch the two municipalities are now facing.

“(The village and the town) had last discussed this together in mid-November, and now we’re once again down to the deadline,” Keefe said. “This contract actually used to be for three years so as not to have to deal with this on a regular basis.”

Keefe said if Pomfret passes the one-year version, the village board will have to call a special meeting to decide if it will approve it, since it has now canceled its final meeting of the year that was scheduled for next Monday. The Fredonia Fire Department, which must now call a special meeting regardless, has yet to approve any version of the contract. It must wait for the village and the town to first agree on a version.

The town must also hold a public hearing on the contract before approving it. The notice of public hearing must state the exact contract cost the town will be voting upon and, by extension, the number of years of the contract.

Under the current contract that is in place, fire protection and emergency services to the town outside of village limits (excluding Lily Dale) will terminate at midnight on Dec. 31.

Under the village’s approved version of the contract extension, Pomfret will have to pay $13,000 more next year for fire protection services, bringing the total cost to $420,000. That cost will go up another $5,000 in 2015.

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