- Public Safety / Emergency Services Committee Press Release
- Emergency Services Committee
- Projected Tax Rate Chart
- Public Hearing Notice
- Response to Mayor Hadden's Questions and Concerns
- Village Budget Graph
Nearly a year ago, a Public Safety/Emergency Services Committee was formed in the Town of Victor. The committee was tasked to address current issues and plan for the future of public safety for the growing population of Victor. Committee members included the Town Supervisor, Village Mayor, Fire Chiefs from Victor and Fishers, Chief Officers from Victor Farmington Ambulance, a Fishers Fire Commissioner, representatives from Ontario County Sheriff Office and New York State Police, and the Finance/Human Resources officer from the Town of Victor. The primary goal of this committee was not only to improve current efficiency of public safety and emergency services, but to project how to best provide those same needs in the future.
The first undertaking of the committee was to solicit proposals from agencies that specialize in research and analysis of public safety organizations. A review of these proposals by the committee narrowed the search and a few companies were scheduled to personally make a presentation. After the personal presentations, the Public Safety/Emergency Services Committee decided a local Rochester, NY company, CGR, best suited their needs and goals.
CGR conducted analysis in a myriad of areas, including geography, population, projected growth, the number of calls for service, response times, geographic location of emergency service agencies, equipment/apparatus, and quality of service. Ontario County 911 records were analyzed and members of public safety agencies were interviewed. CGR’s final report did not contain any absolute orders of what specific needs they decided the community had, but rather, it included a number of options for the committee to consider.
The Public Safety/Emergency Services Committee determined the best solution for fire protection would be the creation of a town wide Joint Fire District, effectively combining Victor and Fishers Fire Department under a singular operational entity. The committee decided this Joint Fire District would prepare the fire service to better address the needs for the next generation. The community would be served by a single department that draws its volunteers from the two existing fire companies and deploys it resources, including paid fire fighters, as needed for emergencies. This plan would lower capital cost in the long term, as Victor and Fishers could potentially reduce redundancy in their fleets, yet still meet the demands of the community. This option also represented a more equitable distribution of cost throughout the town.
At this time, the recommendation of the Public Safety/Emergency Services Committee to form a town wide Joint Fire District is fully supported by the current Chief Officers and fire fighters of both the Victor and Fishers Fire Departments. The current Fishers Fire Commissioners and Victor Fire Department Inc. business officers have also expressed their support for this option.
The next step is approval of the Victor Town and Village Boards. On Monday, May 1st, 2017 a joint meeting between the two boards resulted with a resolution to hold a public hearing on May 22nd. At this meeting, town and village residents will be provided with a summary of what the creation of a town wide Joint Fire District is and how it affects them.
Jack Marren – Victor Town Supervisor
Jason Ashton – Village of Victor Mayor
Tina Kolaczyk – Town of Victor Finance/Human Resources
Sean McAdoo – Victor Fire Chief
Andy Stromfeld – Fishers Fire District Chief
Mark Eifert – Victor Deputy Fire Chief
Joseph Murphy – Past Chief, Victor
Maureen Bills – Fishers Fire District Commissioner
Michael Carlotta – Victor Farmington Ambulance Deputy Chief
Jared Palmer – Victor Farmington Ambulance Captain
Ontario County Sheriff Office
New York State Police
On May 22nd the Town and Village Boards will hold a joint Public Hearing to consider consolidation of the Victor and Fishers Fire Departments and the formation of a town-wide Fire District. The public is encouraged to attend the hearing and we thank you for taking the time to review the information below and to consider the proposal. We believe it offers the best solution for continuing fire protection for the Town and Village of Victor. Our goal is to provide effective fire protection services as cost efficiently as practical. As you read through this information, we hope you understand the complexity before us and how this solution will work.
- The Town wide Emergency Services Study completed by CGR recommended the most cost effective solution is to maintain two volunteer companies under a single joint fire district; along with the career staff already on duty, this will assure meeting the level of service of 10 firefighters on scene within 10 minutes that our type of community needs.
- Since 2011, Victor and Fishers Fire have been collaborating on joint purchases, aligned training and response plans, and working as a functionally combined organization. Neither department can function without the other; however, the cost is not equitable due to the career staff. Fishers has to consider how to balance this.
- Victor Fire has 46 members, 21 of which are interior. Mirroring national trends, all but 3 are either over 45 or college aged and living at home – within 3 years we expect to lose half of our interior.
- Victor Fire is at the point where we need to hire career firefighters. If things remain the same, we can expect the tax rate in 2018-19 to go from $.91/1000 to $1.23/1000 just to hire 2 for the daytime. Two daytime firefighters is a stopgap; in two years, we need to have them on duty 24/7, which result in a tax rate of $3.54, not counting normal increases. Consolidating will result in a tax rate of approximately $1.70/1000 and provide 4 on duty 24/7.
- Consolidation does not eliminate volunteers; rather, it lets the volunteers focus on the needed calls while the paid staff handles routine or when volunteers are not available.
- A combination fire service provides the best service for our community. Fast fire responses minimize damage during fires, allowing businesses to re-open and residents to get back into their home faster. In Victor, this functional combination saved a main street business, allowing them to re-open quickly; saved the majority of personal property in a fire involving two structures; and saved the life of a woman in a medical emergency while being in a traffic collision.
- Village residents pay for fire protection as part of their Village tax. In 2017-2018, 23% of the Village expenditures are for the fire department. Consolidation removes those expenditures from their budget, and there should be a corresponding decrease to their Village taxes.
- The Town contracts with the Village of Victor for fire protection in the Victor Fire Protection District on an annual basis. The Town has the authority to change that contract away from the Village. If they do so, Village Law §10-1006 requires the volunteers to reside in the Village, which would mean 2/3rds of the members of VFD are not eligible for membership.
- If the Town discontinues the fire protection contract, the Village tax rate for fire protection goes to $2.73 without any changes. If the Village hires firefighters (which they would to cover the shortage of volunteers), the Village tax rate for fire protection goes to $4.77.
- A single commission focused on fire protection, by law, will increase transparency. Currently, the fire department budget is a subset of the Village budget, and revenues (tax and contribution from the Town) are comingled within the Village general fund.
- Currently, Town residents, who compose 3/4th of the citizens VFD protects, cannot vote on those who make the decisions on fire protection, especially what equipment is purchased, and how often.
- The increase for the years’ taxes going to a consolidated district is equivalent to between the same value as between one and two months’ of cable bills.
- The Association of Fire Districts of the State of New York and the New York State Association of Fire Chiefs (NYSAFC) have issued a Summary and Recommendations from their Symposium held for the Fire Services in New York State "Supplementing Volunteer Resources." Recently the Daily Messenger wrote an article on the topic.
During the joint meeting on May 1, 2017, Mayor Hadden posed a series of questions and concerns regarding the possible consolidation into a single fire protection district within the Town and Village of Victor. We provide context and answers to his questions as follows:
Concerned about the rate we are going through this process.
The Town Emergency Services Committee was formed in late 2015 and included representation by the Supervisor and the then-Mayor. CGR was selected in March of 2016, and conducted surveys and created opportunities for the emergency services to be heard. Findings were presented publicly by CGR on September 7, 2016, and October 12, 2016, with members of the Village and Town Boards present. A specific presentation was made to the Village Board on January 23, 2017, and the VFD, Inc. attorney presented information on March 20, 2017. We are currently providing information to the public to become informed of the issue in time for the May 22, 2017, public hearing.
Question of what exactly we are going for – it has morphed, and why?
The Emergency Services Committee has endorsed the recommendations of the findings of the CGR study. One of the admitted “gaps” in the CGR study was the lack of data from the 911 center on how quickly individual units were arriving on scene. In March of 2017, we presented a more phased-approach to the Village Board by moving Victor to a stand-alone district. During this process, we took a careful look at the details, and realized that Victor was in need for hiring daytime staff. We determined that hiring two daytime firefighters would raise taxes to $1.23/1000. The data also showed that this would be a temporary solution, and additional hires would be in future budgets. We put together a consolidated budget that meets the needs, and found the cost would be $1.70/1000. This would allow our operations as we know now to remain intact for the foreseeable future. Today, we are supporting and recommending the full consolidation.
LOSAP resolution – ironed out
The LOSAP program has been added to the resolutions.
Will volunteers fragment due to conflict between paid and volunteer?
There can be a great tension between paid and volunteer firefighters, as there can be between any two groups. There are numerous examples of successful combination departments in our region: Geneva, Henrietta, N. Greece, and Ridge Culver. These organizations are supportive of volunteers and help them grow within the organization. This is accomplished by a deliberate effort to coordinate and plan between paid and volunteer staff, scheduling volunteer opportunities according to availability, enhancement of roles and responsibilities, and continuous, effective training. In addition, good leadership principles require communication, addressing little issues before they become barriers, and constant training and working together in the same manner.
Will this fragmentation lead to an increased cost – i.e., more paid people?
Fragmentation won’t lead to increase cost – it may affect safety, which will be the concern of the Chief Officers. What will create the need for additional paid staff is the absence of volunteers. Constant recruiting, programs such as the protectives and bunk-ins, and maintaining a sense of purpose for volunteers will keep volunteering viable. In addition, having paid staff available will lessen the non-firefighting and administrative load of volunteers, decreasing burn out and keeping them focused on training and response over changing light bulbs or doing reports. As part of this effort, the Victor Fire Department has issued a challenge to bring their membership from 49 to 60.
How do we find qualified people for the commission, keeping a good balance?
How does any community find qualified people to run for their governing boards or fill appointed board seats? The members of the Village and Town boards can help by mentoring commission members, and keeping communication open when seats are open. We believe the best commission of 5 will have 1-2 with fire experience, 1-2 business minded people with a keen understanding of finance and insurance, and the rest general members of the public.
What about the other options (contracting for service?)
A specific quote for contracting for additional services was not explored when we decided to move away from the phase-in approach of moving to a stand-alone district due to cost. We realized the contract would likely pay Fishers for hiring additional staff to fulfill this contract as if we hired our own, and the scenario would play out the same way as if hiring 2 daytime firefighters.
What about the approved administrative support? Can expanding that help?
The position approved by the Village Board in the budget starting in June of this year is still “on the books,” and was brought over to the possible consolidated district budget. Like the idea of contracting with Fishers, this is merely a stopgap at this point. Expanding the hours and scope of this position would result in the tax increases with no solution for daytime firefighting help.
What impact does this have on the VFVAC with their attempts to go to district and hire paid staff?
The legal structures and staffing levels of Victor Fire Department do not directly relate to the Victor Farmington Ambulance Corps. They are an independent certified paramedic ambulance service, responding to all medical emergencies in Victor and Farmington. They currently have 8 paid full time staff, approximately 25 paid part time staff, and 20 volunteers. The fire departments provide support for that mission, regardless if we are paid or volunteer.
Cost of LOSAP:
The estimated cost of LOSAP under the consolidated district would be about $51,000, which was derived from combining the current contributions by each organization. This figure is reflected in the $1.70/1000 tax quote.
|Median||Town||Victorwood||Jacobs landing||Quail Ridge|
|VFD hires 2
|VFD w/ 4, 24/7
|VFD w/o T
|VFD alone, w/ 4
CHART ABOVE SHOWS PROJECTED TAX RATES (Click to Enlarge)
Category 2 - median town home (which would not be covered if Town discontinued contract.
Category 3 – median Victorwood home
Category 4 – median Jacobs Landing Home
Category 5 – median Quail Ridge home