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Boston modifies fire department service award point program

BOSTON — A reoccurring issue, this year, at Boston Town Board meetings, has been the granting of service award points to the town’s three volunteer fire companies.

During the board’s final meeting of the year, held on Wednesday, Dec. 19, Jay Boardway, councilman and deputy supervisor in Martin Ballowe’s absence, reported that modifications were required on the current system of awarding these points. The board unanimously voted in favor of ratifying the changes.

“This is a modification of the currently-in-place service award program point system,” Boardway said. “We found out, through the audits that we had done this past year, on the various service award programs that affect the fire service in town, that there was something done incorrectly, about 10 years ago, which inadvertently awarded too many points to volunteers for responding to certain types of first aid calls that did not involve transporting the patient to the ambulance.”

Boardway explained that the program would be modified to correct the deficit and to bring the system into compliance with New York state law, he added, “It affects all three fire services in town and points that they’re awarded for their volunteer service. Not that we’re ever saying that they don’t deserve every, single point they get, but we were doing something incorrectly, according to New York state.

“We’ve now corrected that and had the opportunity to discuss this, primarily with the president of the Patchin Fire Company, whom this affects the most, because they do have a first responder service, in that particular company,” he continued.

Boardway later reported that, on Dec. 15, he attended a review of a study that was performed on behalf of the three fire companies in town, which he described as “extremely informative.”

He added that study showed that the fire service is strong. “It’s adequate,” Boardway said. “The town is quite well protected, with the fire services that we do have. [The fire stations] are adequately funded, as well, which was a relief, on our part. We were afraid this study had potential to come back and say, ‘The town board is shorting the fire company and has been for years.’ That did not happen; it is a quote that they are ‘adequately funded.’”

In other board matters:
– Boardway reported that the Hamburg School District “is the only school district in Western New York where the teachers and the administrators have not submitted their professional performance review to the state of New York.”

Boardway said, “I urge the folks, in this room, in the Hamburg School District. We got hit with 5.8 percent increases last year, on our tax roll. I’m in that district. Jan. 17 is their deadline, to have these professional performance reviews in to New York state for approval, or they will lose hundreds of thousands, if not over a million dollars in state aid, and, I’m sorry, but that translates into my taxes’ going up, because they don’t want performance reviews or they want to write their own rules for reviews.”

Boardway urged voters to reach out to Hamburg District officials and school board members, about this issue. Names and contact information are listed on the Hamburg School Board’s website. “Express your outrage that this is going on,” Boardway said. “They’re going to lose state aid; it’s going to come out of your pocket.”

– Hannon Engineering recommended that the board accept a bid of $36,000 from New Frontier Excavating and Paving Inc. for the Keller Road Waterline Support structure repairs. The only other bid was made by Fiske and Sons Inc., and that bid was for $49,000.

“After review of the bids, it is our recommendation to accept the low bid of [NFEP],” wrote James Hannon, president of Hannon Engineering.

The project will be constructed under a municipal cooperation agreement with the town of Eden and the project expenses are to be shared between the two towns, as follows: 45.3 percent by Boston, for $16,308 and 54.7 percent by Eden, for $19,692. The board unanimously voted to accept the bid.

– The town’s planning board accepted the resignation of member Keith Clauss. “Due to personal difficulties and, with great regret, I am resigning from the planning board, effective immediately,” Clauss said, in a letter to planning board Chairman David Stringfellow.

“I have truly enjoyed being involved and greatly appreciate the opportunity to be on the planning board. Keep up the good work.”

Former board alternate David Bowen was appointed as a regular member of the planning board.

– Boardway presented the supervisor’s report, in Ballowe’s stead. In that correspondence, Ballowe said, “It’s been a pleasure serving the people of the town of Boston during 2012. It was a very productive and successful year.”

The report highlighted several government happenings that involved local tax dollars, including the lowering of the tax rate in both the general fund and the highway fund, for three consecutive years.

Other highlights included the saving of $10,000 in the school tax collection system, $18,000 saved in the highway contract in the first year and the Christmas lighting’s being covered by donations.

The next Boston Town Board meeting will be held Wednesday, Jan. 2 at 7:30 p.m. in the Boston Town Hall, located at 8500 Boston State Road in Boston.

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