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May 27, 2009 - 7:18am

Today's Poll: Should Batavia consider switching to a volunteer fire department?

posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia FIre Department, polls.
Peter O'Brien
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After watching the volunteers of Hilton and Spencerport demand bigger fire houses, I say keep the paid service. Hell many believe that the Spencerport volunteers are the ones who started the fire in their station because the voters said no to a bigger station. Now they have a giant monstrosity there.
terry paine
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Typical politics, there is no mention of lowering taxes but the sound of someone licking there chops “Can you imagine what we can do” The average savings would be $400 per household, that is alot of sidewalks. The first study should be to see how many council memebers will be volunteers.
Andrew Erbell
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Based on what City Council Members are paid vs the time they spend dealing with City Business, they pretty much are now.
william tapp
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you know thats not a bad idea, council memebers will be volunteers. look at more money saved.more money for sidewalks.do we realy need paid council memebers???
Karen Miconi
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The idea sounds like it would save money. As far as city council,"Most of them" don't get much $$ for their service anyway, so volunteering would be logical. Most towns have great volunteer fire dept's, but the ambulance service has to have qualified, payed tech's aboard. I can only hope this idea is to better our community, save money, with good intent, and not just a last ditch attempt to rub salt in the union firedept's wounds, before they "Fly The Coup".
Peter O'Brien
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If you want to save money, there are many places to cut other than a service that is just and right for a government to provide especially in an area where so many people work out of town.
John Roach
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Look at the crying over ending the ambulance service. You want lower taxes, but no cuts. How many here would volunteer to be a firefighter? Have you already volunteered with a department like the Town of Batavia? You can live in the city and still join them. How many volunteer now to do anything?
Peter O'Brien
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If I have a skill that someone needs I should be paid accordingly to use said skill to their benefit.
Charlie Mallow
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John, I agree. Very good points and volunteers are the key to everything. All I hear is a lot of complaining about taxes but, all I have ever seen is crying when it comes to the alternatives. Are enough people willing to volunteer to save 1/3 or more off your property taxes? Either way, it is time to see some alternatives for those of us who would. For those of you who don’t know, Council is already a group of volunteers, it costs more to run than you make doing the job. There are three BIG MONEY jobs open this fall. For those of you willing to do more than cry, put your hardhat on and sign up. The lions could use some fresh meat.
Howard B. Owens
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Peter, you're attitude flies in the face of a key tenant of libertarianism -- that volunteerism and charity should replace government services. Yes, you should be free to maximize your skills for your financial gain, but you also have an obligation to contribute to the community. Now, if you're a trained firefighter, maybe you want to find a paying job putting those skills to use and volunteer elsewhere, but many volunteer fight fighters have other skills that help them earn a living and they volunteer for the sake of the community with the local fire department. While I agree with a previous statement that fire protection is one of those key government services that taxpayers should support, that doesn't necessarily mean the fire department need be all paid staff, theoretically, of course. I'm still curious if this proposal of Mr. Mallow's is even feasible.
Richard Gahagan
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Mr. Mallow inferred that the city is being "bled dry" by the fire department, but didn't the city sign the fd union contract. And why does the city allow the fd to abuse overtime based on the terms of that contract? Doesn't someone approve ot? Who? Did the fd union price their members out of a job like other unions have done?
Andrew Erbell
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I believe the current contract was negotiated by the prior Council.
Peter O'Brien
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The complete removal of the Batavia PD is a much better idea than a volunteer fire department. NYS Troopers and Sheriffs are all over Batavia. It doesn't need its own police force. I could agree with a volunteer fire department if I were going to save on taxes but I am not. All I am going to get out of it is more money for the council to throw around, probably in some welfare scheme, corporate or otherwise. So Volunteerism will replace nothing. It will be a new adaptation. If it was a libertarian view the council was supporting they would let people keep more of their money instead of using it.
John Roach
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A minor flaw in your argument. If the City would waste any money saved by going to a volunteer fire department, why wouldn’t they waste any money saved by getting rid of the police department? Same scenario, right? As for the Council giving money away as welfare to business or private clubs, you have a point. There is an election this year and all you have to do is vote any incumbents out. That should drive the point home.
Peter O'Brien
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My point about the PD is still sound. They are seperate arguments. Not one combined
John Roach
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Peter, Yes they are combined. Both would save money right? But you say only one would result waste, why? Why is only one going to result in waste?
Peter O'Brien
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They are separate arguments against it. They were developed independently and I do think both would lead to waste.
John Roach
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Bill, If you are right, then why do bigger towns like Amherst, Webster, Tonawanda, etc., stay with volunteer departments? You are right on the point that the service is never really "free". You still pay for equipment, buildings, insurance, heat and the like. But the question is can a small city like us, with a population that is getting smaller, and a city tax base that is not getting larger, keep both a police and fire department? And if so, how do you pay for them (the million dollar question)?
Beth Kinsley
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"6:00+ Most Volunteer Fire Companies and 65% of all fire departments/companies nationwide do not meet the National Fire Protection Agencies standard of a 6 minutes or under response time" Is it possible that most volunteer fire companies do not meet the 6 minute response time because they are often in rural districts with more miles to travel? Just wondering.
Gabor Deutsch
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I dont think ALL volunteer is a good idea.
John Roach
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Bill, OK, then answer the question. Why do so many larger towns keep their volunteer service and not go paid?
Mark Potwora
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Better yet is Bill Hill a real name..................
Howard B. Owens
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Some one else to check on tomorrow ...
Peter O'Brien
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John, did you not read the post I linked to in another thread? Batavia is growing! http://thebatavian.com/blogs/howard-owens/batavia-area-one-nations-faste...
John Roach
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Yes, I did. I also have read that the area population has held steady and have read it has dropped a bit. However, the "area" and the 'county", are not the City. The City population has not been grwoing. This will all be decided very soon with the US census next year.
Peter O'Brien
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Yeah because I trust the counts that ACORN will produce.
Beth Kinsley
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Bill - you say: I am not debating the reasons that town or cities choose volunteer over paid. I am posting facts about response times. Paid department = Faster response times. Volunteer = Slower response times. It's up to you who you want to protect you and your family. You did not answer my prior question as to whether the response time may be slower for volunteer departments because they are often in rural districts and the distances travelled are often farther. Plus, I believe the plan is to have the paid firefighters and the volunteers go directly to the fire so they would not have to "drive to the fire house, wait for other volunteers and then drive to the scene".
Mark Potwora
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Bill Hill is that your real name...
Charlie Mallow
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That story about “micropolitians” has nothing to do with population growth. It has to do with economic growth in the county, not the City of Batavia. Take a look at the census data; we are losing population every year. People are running away because of our high taxes and overgrown government. You should spend your energy looking for solutions to streamline government; instead you are running full steam into a brick wall. Our state in free falling because of high taxes and the ground is coming up quick. Instead of solutions all I see is people crying about every idea that is made to fix the problem. Guess what, we don’t have the money to continue on the way we have been for the last 100 years. What don’t you get? No kidding a fully paid fire department is better. I’m sure a sports car would get me to work faster too. But, I can’t afford it. http://factfinder.census.gov/servlet/SAFFFacts?_event=ChangeGeoContext&g...
Peter O'Brien
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If we are leading in economic growth, how is the tax base falling?
Andrew Erbell
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Well Mr. Mallow, with any luck one of the wizards here will run and get elected to City Council, at which time they will find out for themselves it's alot easier to second-guess everything when you're not personally held accountable for those decisions.
Peter O'Brien
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I would gladly run if it didn't interfere with my sports schedule. It will have to wait till I am old and broken
Charlie Mallow
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Peter, read my explanation one more time. That story about “micropolitians” has nothing to do with population growth. It has to do with economic growth in the county, NOT the City of Batavia. (Key word being City) Andrew, your right. It’s a lot easier to toss rocks from the safety of your living room. If you notice, the same people who complain about high taxes are the first ones to complain about a solution to the problem. Costs rise every year. There are two choices, cut from what you have or take more money from taxpayers. The government has taken too much already. Whether you personally can afford higher taxes or not, the market cannot bear it any longer. We have to continue to shrink the size of government, there is no other way. Do you really think I enjoy bringing solutions to the table that puts people out of work? Ideas that cut essential services? Have you lost your minds? There is no other choice.
John Roach
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Bill, I read your information from the Boston paper and it has a few interesting items. One is that while most volunteer departments miss the 6 minute response time target, not all volunteer departments do. Why? Another point is that 48% of the paid departments do not meet the 6 minute standard either. Why? Not a good sign. It also said unions are a major road block in cutting cost and making changes. On top of that, the study is old.
Peter O'Brien
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Where do you think all those people go to shop? Most of the stores are here in the city limits. The city collects property taxes from the stores. As the businesses do better the assessments go up so do the property taxes...
Peter O'Brien
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I complain about high taxes but I offer solutions. Dump the Batavia PD.
Richard Gahagan
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My guess is the city is or close to being the number one employer in the city of Batavia and the County is or close to being the number one employer in Genesee County. So a good number of people in the area are dependent on the local government for employment. The problem is these people don't generate revenue, invent new products, or make anything that results in a profit. The only way the government union workers can get more money is if the government raises their taxes some more. Seems like the problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people's money. Chuck is right. Government doesn't have the solution to this problem because government is the problem.
Charlie Mallow
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Richard, put some fresh hey out in the barn. If we keep going the way we are, I’ll be needing a place to stay in Texas.
Richard Gahagan
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"If you have proof that having volunteers is safer than paid, lets hear it." Your missing the point vols may just be better than the PAID TO MUCH in most tax payers eyes. Your piece of the taxpayers pie is larger than anyone elses. There just isn't enough pie.
Peter O'Brien
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From what I have seen, volunteer services just make sure your neighbors houses don't catch on fire while yours burns to the ground.
Karen Miconi
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I've got some fresh hay for yah, but first, why can't the city have a handful of firefighters stay in their positions, work the day shift, maybe 10 hours, and then volunteers to watch and be ready at night? A happy medium per say. Now, did anyone see the letter to the editor about water rates?? Well this has been a concern of mine, and a bone I've wanted to pick for a long time. Maybe Charlie could look into why our bills have gone up 34 percent in the last few years? When, the city signed the agreement with Rochester, Genesee County was promised the water bills would not rise. I'm wondering what justification the city has for these rate hikes?
Charlie Mallow
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Karen, Council asked the City Manager to bring back options for a volunteer department with paid drivers. Let’s see what options he comes up with. As for the water rates, I heard that load of bull as well. The contract that was signed with the county 10 years ago called for a 3% raise in water costs every year. The problem we had was that no one raised the rates for water or sewer for 7 years to compensate for those built in increases. That left the city with an enormous deficit in both of those funds that had to be brought into balance. I have spoken to Mr. Frank Battaglia many times about bulk water rate discounts and I agree with him to a point. He doesn’t believe that we should give large industrial water users a bulk rate discount. In fact, council did lower the discount a couple years ago. I believe there is a breaking point for these businesses and raising their rates further might give them even more incentive to move out of the area.
Karen Miconi
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Thanks for the info. Is there a cap on how many years the water bill can be increased, or will it just keep going up-and up? Its good to see you understand the taxpayers frustration. The think businesses should get a little discount on their water usage, but maybe some consolidation, and reform is in order. I dont know..We need to make cuts to stay afloat. This should be throughout the county.
Mark Potwora
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SO is Bill Hill a real name..
Karen Miconi
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Mark is there an imposter on here???? AWWWWWWW
Charlie Mallow
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Karen, the rates will rise 3% every year. The agreement has 8 years left.
Karen Miconi
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Bill Hill, or Joe Schmo, whatever, but the zip code on your profile is wrong. Maybe you should correct it, so there is no question as to who you are. We dont take kindly to fakes. Your opinions are very strong, so I'm hoping your who you say you are. Just saying
Karen Miconi
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Its against the batavian rules to post under an assumed name. If your so set in your opinions, you should not be afraid of posting your true identity. Cause you know what, we all had to, and so shouldnt you. Thats what is ticking some of us off. Howard insists on it!
Howard B. Owens
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I sent Bill an e-mail last night asking him to provide proof of identity and he did not respond. I've suspended his account. Since he's making it clear in this thread that he is posting under a fake name, I'll give him until later tonight to provide me identity, at which time I'll update his account with that identity and turn it back on. if he doesn't, I'll delete all of his posts.
Howard B. Owens
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Bill made it clear in our e-mail exchange that he has no intention to reveal his identity, so his posts have been deleted.

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