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No objections regarding fire merger

OBSERVER Photo by Gregory BaconAttorney Brad Pinsky answers questions during a public hearing regarding the merger of the Mayville, Dewittville and Hartfield fire departments.

MAYVILLE – The public appears to be on board with the merger of three Chautauqua area fire departments.

On Tuesday, a public hearing took place regarding the merger of the Mayville, Dewittville and Hartfield fire departments. That was an opportunity for any residents to voice any concerns or objections regarding the proposal.

After about 40 minutes, the hearing was closed with not a single person voicing any objections to the plan.

Attorney Brad Pinsky, who has been hired to oversee the proposed merger, coordinated the discussion. There were also members of the Mayville village and Chautauqua town boards present.

Most of the public hearing was spent going over various issues like the selection of fire commissioners, what happens with loans fire departments are still paying off, reserve funds, and how the 2% tax cap will impact the new district’s budget.

OBSERVER Photo by Gregory Bacon Members of the Mayville, Dewittville and Hartfield fire departments are pictured, along with other community members, who gathered to hear about the steps needed to merge the three fire departments.

Pinsky noted the five commissioners will have a lot of decision-making when it comes to the future of the department, including which buildings should remain open or closed, which trucks should be kept or disposed of, the best place to locate a new fire hall should one be desired, and how budgets are created and spent.

But even with this authority, residents will have the final say. “If you want to bond and finance a truck, the public voters have to vote to approve it. If you want to build a new station, voters have to approve it. If you want to increase the budget beyond a certain limit, the voters have to approve it. If you want to create a reserve fund and save money, the voters have to approve it. … The voters in a fire district have more control over government than in any other form of government – more than a village, more than a town, more than a city – voters control a lot,” Pinsky said.

Following the public hearing, the village and town boards appointed the following fire commissioners: Marty Bova, Steve McAninch, Shannon Raynor, Burl Swanson, and Matt Davis. Eventually every one of them will need to run for commissioner to stay in office. The appointments will be for one, two, three, four or five years, so that every year one commissioner is up for election.

Both the town and village boards approved a resolution to form the joint fire district. Pinsky said Mayville’s role is essentially done. The Chautauqua Town Board and the Hartfield and Dewittville fire departments will still need to hold additional public hearings and then formally vote to dissolve and merge.

According to the resolution, the new district will be known as the North Lake Fire District.

Pinsky said they’re on track to have the new district in place by July.

The Mayville Village Board approved an additional resolution to hire Holt Appraisals to prepare a rent study for the current occupied Mayville Fire Department areas. The rent study will cost $650 and is expected to help guide the village board on how much to charge the newly formed fire district, if anything, to continue to use the fire department building.

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