In the news recently, which some surely followed, our area saw the end of the volunteer fire department in Fonda. It is sad that when financial times get tough, something like public safety gets cut first over other items under municipal control.
This is not something new, but something of a first for our area. The costs in being an emergency services organization have done nothing but get more expensive year after year.
An opinion I have, and many others do as well, is if the costs for something go up, if it’s important, it must be paid for. Public safety in our area – with a growing older population along with new, younger families calling this area home – is something many depend on, even if they don’t realize it until they have the need to call 911.
Local governments, villages and towns need to start clearly looking at how they are spending valuable tax dollars. In the grand scheme of things, the results of the Fonda Volunteer Fire Department closing its doors may lead to a decrease in the amount of tax dollars being spent on the purpose at hand, although the steps taken to get those savings have been and will be debated for much time to come. There are many examples in our county where there is duplication of services – services that cost taxpayers money. Tradition, organizational pride, personal feelings and a lack of a true understanding of the issues lead to things not being done in the most fiscally responsible ways. This is something that can’t be sustained.
Our local elected political boards have to step back and, with the help of the emergency services in their areas, take a close look at where money can be saved, but still provide the best possible service to taxpayers.
Things like consolidation are going to be more common in the future, either done at the local level or forced from the state and federal levels. Getting things done on our own terms will be much better than the alternative.
It’s time to not only take the elected job seriously, but to get to work on stretching each and every tax dollar as far as it can, for there is less income out there to be collected, and that doesn’t seem to be changing any time soon.
Glen volunteer fire chief