Fire Commissioners To City: Let’s Talk

Fire Commissioner

To City: Let’s Talk

Al Rubin, commissioner for the Town of Oneonta Fire Commission, stands and addresses Common Council this evening, encouraging the City to talk with him to negotiate a formula for long-term fire coverage. Despite being elected to the position, talks between the two have been stalled, due to the chair of the fire commission not supplying the paperwork authorizing Rubin’s position to negotiate. (Ian Austin/AllOTSEGO.com)

By CATHY KOPLEN NARDI • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

ONEONTA – Following two years of stalemate, the Town of Oneonta Fire Commission reached out to the City of Oneonta to re-open talks about the contract with the town Fire District.

“We feel the contract is very important,” said Town Supervisor Bob Wood said. “We would like to encourage you to talk, especially with Commissioner (Al) Rubin. He has expressed a strong intention in finding a formula that is fair, one we can go forward with.”

After learning of the Town Fire District’s plan to dissolve the Oneonta Town Fire District because of an impasse over fairness just last week, Council scheduled a presentation by commissioner Rubin and Wood.

“The fairness issue is an allocation issue with the EMS services and the fire services,” Rubin said. “We would like to discuss a creative means for allocation.”

According to Rubin, the allocation involves taking a portion of the amount the Town of Oneonta district pays for fire protection, currently $1.1 million, and allocating it to the $24,000 amount of the Town ambulance contract, which covers both the district and West Oneonta.

The Town Fire District voted on Aug. 14 to dissolve the District, effective Nov. 2. By law, a public hearing must be announced giving residents the opportunity to ask questions and raise concerns. The public hearing on the proposed dissolution will be held at 7 p.m. on September 18 at Elm Park United Methodist Church on Chestnut Street.

The three-year agreement allowed the city to raised the price for fire service incrementally over three years to the $1.1 million it costs the Town Fire District for fire services in 2018. The Oneonta Fire Department has been providing services to the Town of Oneonta for several decades.

Common Council voted to go into executive session after the business on the agenda was complete. When they emerged, Oneonta Mayor Gary Herzig said Council had agreed to reengage with Town Fire District through Rubin for the expressed purpose of negotiating the agreement between the Town Fire District and the City of Oneonta to continue fire and emergency services.


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