On Monday, during a Fredonia Village Board workshop session, a question came up about the $1.3 million grant the board had discussed previously provided through the Federal Emergency Management Agency. It is called the SAFER, or Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response, and would provide funding for salary and benefits for nine more firefighters for a period of two years.
Mayor Stephen Keefe wanted an idea of how a vote to accept or reject the grant might go in the regular session. He asked for a show of hands of those who would vote against the measure. Two trustees indicated they were reluctant to vote either way. One said he would abstain. Keefe told him that he would have to have a reason for abstention.
Fredonia Fire Department Lt. Randall Butts asked to address the board on the matter. He said that while he understood some board members already had made a decision, if the grant was rejected he would want "to know why."
OBSERVER Photo by Diane R. Chodan
Fredonia Fire Department Lt. Randall Butts explains his budgetary requests Monday to the Fredonia Village Board.
He explained, "Any gear bought stays in house. It's not like the firefighters walk away with it after two years."
He also argued that an investment in training has to be made whether a person is hired or comes on as a volunteer.
In another argument for accepting the grant, Butts said he has heard from some residents that nine new jobs for two years would be a benefit to the area, which is struggling with jobs.
Finally, Butts said he would rather let the grant period expire rather than rejecting the funding outright.
During the workshop, Butts gave a preliminary view of the items he felt were needed by the fire department.
Butts said the roof was constructed in 1979, and at that time it was state of the art. However, it is now recognized that this type of roof does not do well in the north. The building does leak.
"There is no sense of making inside repairs if there is no protective envelope... It needs to get addressed at some point," Butts said.
Other items mentioned were a new engine pumper and a new tanker, a new security system, repairs to a parking lot, and equipment to create ID cards for firefighters which could be shared with other departments.
The board went into executive session before the regular began at 7:30 p.m. At the regular meeting, the matter of the grant was not discussed and no motion concerning it was offered.
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