Fire revenue, raise sparks debate

Fredonia Fire Chief Joshua Myers stands next to his incident command vehicle at the Fredonia Fire Department.

Fredonia Fire Chief Joshua Myers faced pointed questions about revenue projections and his proposed pay raise during the village Board of Trustees’ during a budget workshop last month.

Trustee Nicole Siracuse said Myers projected $800,000 in ambulance service revenue for the next budget but what came in for the current fiscal year was about half of projections. Myers, who phoned in from vacation, blamed Medicare and Medicaid payments.

Trustee Jon Espersen mentioned that in Myers’ own documents, he hoped for $1.25 million in ambulance revenue.

“That’s if everyone has primary insurance, everyone pays their bills. So that’s not a realistic number,” Myers responded. “That latter number ($800,000) is probably a better guesstimate, and unfortunately it’s a guesstimate, because we bring 10 people to the hospital, we might not see all 10 of that revenue. We might see two, we might see eight. It’s really just using data as far as how many calls we run, using what we bill at, our current rate, and that’s what I’m projecting because that’s all I can really do.”

Myers added, “I can confidently say our revenue will be higher than it’s ever been in previous years.”

Trustee Ben Brauchler questioned why revenue has fallen from town of Pomfret services every year since 2019. Myers said it was the result of a five-year contract negotiated “way before my time.”

He promised that the contract terms will be renegotiated when the current pact ends this year.

None of Fredonia’s five trustees were in village government in 2019, and they were exasperated that previous officials agreed to lower revenues every year.

Later, Siracuse noted that Myers sought a 12% pay raise in the upcoming budget, instead of the standard 3% for department heads, which he wanted last year. Siracuse asked him to justify the request.

“I think this request is in line with the current product of the fire department,” Myers replied. “We’re continuing to grow the fire department. … I do have two firefighters that when they work some overtime, they’re making more than I am. That’s not, in my eyes, right. I feel that I’m well deserving of the 12%.”

Siracuse asked what other department heads were seeking in raises. She was told that each is seeking the standard 3%.

At the meeting’s end, trustees agreed with Espersen that the village is not in a financial position to give Myers a 12% raise, and that it is not appropriate for him to get such a pay hike when all other department heads were getting 3%.

The March 26 session was one of several in what has proven a tumultuous budget season, with Fredonia facing the prospect of a sizable tax increase. Dave Fridmann has stepped up to record the sessions for public viewing on the Fredonia Access YouTube channel.


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