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Change in fire protection concerns some Town of Manheim residents

By ANNA MEILER

TOWN OF MANHEIM, N.Y. (WKTV) -- Chet Szymanski lives in the Town of Manheim, just minutes from the City of Little Falls Fire Department, but now, if he calls 911, he'll have to wait for the Village of Dolgeville volunteer fire department, which could take about a half hour to respond.

"Vulnerable. Not protected as good as we should be, especially with having a paid department right down the street from us basically," said Szymanski.

The Town of Manheim has been paying the City of Little Falls for fire protection for decades, but this year they couldn't come to an agreement. The Town of Manheim supervisor, John Haughton, says the cost of fire protection jumped more than 100 percent over the last ten years and they couldn't afford to pay any more.

"Ten percent each year for ten years- that's an awful increase for any line item in the budget," said Haughton.

Haughton proposed paying around $28,000 instead of the over $38,000 the City of Little falls was asking for, as well as decreasing the area Little Falls covers from 15 square miles to 11.

Though the City of Little Falls fire department says $38,000 a year doesn't go very far.

"We would be using up that amount of money on one call or two calls especially if it was like a Hazmat call or something," said Chief Robert Parese.

Haughton says Little Falls Mayor Robert Peters didn't respond to his proposal in time, so he was forced to pass the 2014 budget without them. The Dolgeville volunteer fire department agreed to take over the city's territory for Haughton's proposed price and he says he's confident in their services.

"This was the option that we took, it helps us maintain the tax cap, meet the tax cap, and provide the people with the fire protection and they will have ambulance from S&S and Rural Metro," said Haughton.

Haughton says they're open to revisiting the contract next year. Another option they're looking into is turning the Dolgeville volunteer fire department into a town-wide department with a satellite station at the lower end of town.

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