By NICOLE ANTONUCCI
TOWN OF MOHAWK -- The state Legislature passed a bill Wednesday allowing the town to expand its fire district to include the village of Fonda.
The bill, which was authored by Sen. Cecilia Tkaczyk, D-Duanesburg, comes a year after the village of Fonda dissolved its fire department and entered a contractual arrangement with the town of Mohawk.
"Shared governmental services help to streamline operations and save taxpayers money," Tkaczyk said. "Extending the fire district into the village of Fonda will save money, increase the pool of volunteer firefighters available, and maintain effective and efficient fire service."
Because fire departments can only draw volunteers from the areas they serve, extending service into Fonda will expand the pool of volunteers available. Extending service also eliminates the need for a contractual agreement, further reducing administrative costs.
Mohawk Supervisor Edward Bishop said the bill is a formality to legalize the town's coverage of the village.
"The contractual arrangement was only temporary until the legislature approved it," Bishop said, adding he was not sure of the contract's terms.
However, he said the only difference the bill's passage makes is the collection of taxes for the fire department.
"The village fire department is supported by their taxpayers so they have collected their tax money for their fire department. It would only be money that they have collected that would now be in support of the town to cover the village," he said.
Bishop expects the equipment in the village fire department will be used by the town.
Fonda Mayor William Peeler could not be reached for comment.
Fonda officially dissolved the volunteer fire department in February 2012, citing the increased cost of operations, duplication of services, and the ability and willingness of the town of Mohawk Fire District to take over fire protection services in the village.
At the time, Peeler had reported an estimated annual cost savings of $20,000, which would be used to make infrastructure improvements throughout the village.