FONDA, NY – The village may form a committee to look into consolidating more services with the town of Mohawk and possibly dissolving the village. Mayor William Peeler said at a village meeting Monday he is open to the possibility of replacing village services with town services.
At the village meeting, resident John Maher asked about whether the village government would look into dissolving itself. Peeler said a committee may look into the benefits of dissolving the village. “If you can get the [Mohawk] Town Board to cooperate with that, I’ll be the first one to sign,” said Peeler. “Slowly but surely, what we’re trying to do is consolidate everything to the point where the village is no longer in existence.” After the meeting, Peeler said, “Ultimately, I’m all for whatever consolidation we can make. If it makes sense and it’s a duplication of services, why not?”
Ultimately, Peeler said, the dissolution of the village would be up to the residents. He said it could be difficult to push for dissolution of the village. He cited possible opposition from officials in county or town government. Trustee Thomas Healey said dissolution could be hampered by the fact the village shares its water with Fultonville, Mohawk and Glen. Trustee Walter Boyd said he would approve of exploring the possibility of dissolving the village if it could result in significant savings.
“Every one of us here are village residents, and there’s no way to pay for duplication of services,” said Boyd. Mohawk Supervisor Greg Rajkowski said that, to his knowledge, the village never had discussed dissolution before, but consolidation of services has been brought up. “They’ve [village officials] approached us with three different consolidation efforts,” Rajkowski said, saying that generally town officials have approved of consolidation, except for a request to plow village roads.
Rajkowski said if a merger between the village and town were to occur, certain issues would need to be worked out, such as what to do with the village water services. “We, as the town, do not have a separate sewer and water district,” he said. Rajkowski said if the village were to attempt dissolution, the village and the town would have to work together on it.
According to the New York State Department of State, communities considering consolidation may be eligible for a Local Government Efficiency grant to help with studying the feasibility of consolidation or to help with the consolidation itself. The state also has documents available to help towns and villages in mergers.
Arthur Cleveland covers Montgomery County news. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
In recent months, the village of Fonda Board of Trustees led by Mayor William Peeler has been in negotiations with the town of Mohawk Board of Fire Commissioners looking for ways to cut operating costs in Fonda. At an initial savings of about $15,000 a year, a deal to get rid of the village fire department and have the town provide fire coverage looks great on paper.
However, the village fire department has become a local staple, taking the lead on numerous local activities. The Fonda Volunteer Fire Department helps to organize and participate in several local events, such as the annual Fonda-Fultonville Memorial Day parade, the Fonda Halloween Children’s Parade and Open House, and the annual Montgomery County Youth Day. The department also provides safe off-street parking across from the Fonda Speedway for the weekly races, as well as the Fonda Fair.
Without the firemen providing the parking services, there will not be safe off-street parking other than the limited space within the fairgrounds. This will be especially important during fair time when thousands of cars can utilize the parking service. The Fonda department also has one of the only fire department chaplains within the county, who is able to provide an array of services to the community.
Soon, the doors will close, the equipment will be sold and the community will be at a great loss with no local support to turn to. It saddens me to think the current administration only thinks in dollars and cents, and cannot look at the services provided that you can’t put a monetary value on.
John Maher, Fonda Volunteer Fire Department
A sign hanging on a fence in Fonda that reads: “FONDA FIRE DEPARTMENT NEEDS YOU”, but after Monday’s Village Board of Trustee meeting, it really serves no purpose. The Board voted 3 to 1 to completely dissolve the 139 year old volunteer fire department.
“That’s very disappointing they decided not to keep it,” said resident Maria Abraham who feels local home owners are being squeezed. “This is just another sign of that squeeze.”
Avoiding the squeeze on tax payers is what Mayor Bill Peeler says the Board is trying to do. The mayor explained it’s become costly for the Village to maintain the department with its aging equipment. “For the future betterment as well as the current betterment of our situation in fire protection it was better to dissolve the fire department and move on with a contract with our fire district”
The “district fire department” is the Mohawk Fire District. It’s fire house sits just on the edge of the Village. The mayor says Fonda’s 785 residents should see little difference in first responder arrival time — it’s just that the first responders won’t be the same. Fonda Fire Chief Donald Wagoner wishes he and the other volunteers had been consulted before the Trustees decided to go through with a new contract. “We’ve protected the Village this long. We’ve done the best we can and we’re all kind of disgruntled and upset,” said Wagoner, a fire volunteer of 29 years.
As of March 14, the Village of Fonda Fire Department will close it’s doors and the Mohawk Fire District will take effect.
February 12, 2013 by Arthur Cleveland, The Leader Herald