SYRACUSE — Turkey Creek Fire Chief Mickey Scott’s budget presentation to the Syracuse Town Council turned into a lengthy discussion during the council’s regular monthly meeting Tuesday night, July 19.
In discussing the budget, Scott told the council he was requesting $50,000 to complete the second floor of Station II. Right now the space is used to store protected files. He would also like to store exercise equipment there as well. The budget also calls for $130,000 for improvements to Station I.
The improvements include remodeling the front end of the building, the former dispatch center and rest rooms as well as landscape the front of the building. Another $18,000 would be used to purchase semi-containers for live fire training. The fire territory is in the process of partnering with another department to share the costs of the containers.
In the equipment budget $275,000 would be used to replace a 20-year-old pumper, while another $30,000 would be needed to replace breathing apparatus. The overall budget is a 2.3 percent increase over last years.
Councilman Tom Hoover clarified the territory budget was not approved until both the council and township advisory boards could discuss it. He also expressed frustration that an independent fifth member of the territory board has not been selected yet. Cindy Taylor removed her name and the township advisory board refused to approve Randy Cox.
Discussion ensued regarding how the budget should be handled between both the town and the township. Council President Larry Siegel and Scott argued over what the contract said until Town Attorney Vern Landis, after reviewing the contract, stated both were correct because the contract was written in an inconsistent manner.
Discussion also centered on the possibility of having a private enterprise such as Parkview handling ambulance calls. Siegel stated it was something worth looking into while Scott expressed skepticism as to whether it would save taxpayers money. Scott also pointed out the fire territory is well below its levy.
Siegel then went on stating the fire territory was one of the most expensive in the state. Scott countered pointing out Middlebury Fire Department covers an area similar in size to Syracuse with only one station and is far more expensive.
Hoover and Councilman Bill Musser stated Scott should come to both the council and township advisory board to get their input while he creates his budget. Scott pointed out he did what he always did, create a proposed budget with explanations which was sent to the fire territory board. It was those representatives responsibility to share with their members. If there were any questions, Scott said he hoped members would contact him.
In his regular monthly report, Scott told the council the fire territory has had 79 more calls than this time last year. Another CPR class will be held 6 p.m. Thursday, July 28, at Station I. The class is free and those interested in taking the class should call (574) 457-4100 or (574) 457-6917.
The new garage doors and door openers are set to be installed at Station 1 in mid-August.
Hoover brought up a question in council business regarding a key for the fire department. Scott explained the fire department needs a key to the water tower in case there is a problem with the repeater. Public Works Superintendent Robin Merchant balked at providing a key stating it was a matter of Homeland Security. After more discussion of possible solutions, Siegel instructed both Scott and Merchant to discuss it and get back to the council.