Residents of Whitestown and Oriskany will go to the polls Aug. 18 to decide whether they prefer a consolidated fire district with shared services and equipment or for coverage to remain the same.
Polls will be open noon to 9 p.m. at Whitestown town offices, 8539 Clark Mills Road, Whitesboro village offices, 10 Moseley St.,and Oriskany Public Library, 621 Utica St.
Known as the Whitestown Fire District, the joint district would consolidate fire protection and rescue services in the town of Whitestown, village of Whitesboro and village of Oriskany.
Originally a plan was discussed that would include the villages of Yorkville and New York Mills, but officials from those two municipalities opted out of the consolidation.
As part of the plan, district lines would not change, and both Whitesboro and Oriskany departments would share the stations located on Oriskany Boulevard and Utica Street respectively.
There would be one chief for the district, according to the plan. The consolidation plan would include:
- A potential decrease in the fire tax.
- Immediate shared services.
- Operation of one fire department with two stations.
- Standardization of equipment, training and apparatus, and over time — a reduction in the size of the fleet of apparatus.
- Manpower will grow by at least 40 percent. Currently there are 50 members of Oriskany Fire Department and 65 members of Whitesboro.
- Maintain financial stability.
- Equality of fire tax within the joint district — all pay the same fire rate.
- Statutory spending limitations — the district will have a limit on how much it can spend.
- Residents vote if the district seeks to enlarge that limit.
- A budget hearing process — A public hearing will be held for residents’ input.
- Residents vote on certain expenditures: Bonding for apparatus and buildings will always include a public vote where now it’s at the village boards’ discretion.
The new fire district would be run by five commissioners who are to be appointed by the town and village boards. The commissioners would decide whether to continue to contract with New York Mills and Yorkville to cover town territory.
The fire tax rate for Whitestown is now 98 cents per $1,000 assessed valuation on a home of an average value of $100,000. That tax rate would be reduced to 90 cents with the merger. Oriskany’s rate is currently $1.72 per $1,000 assessed valuation, and Whitesboro, $3.28.