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Louisville and its fire department may enter 2014 without a contract

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LOUISVILLE — Officials with the town and the Louisville Fire Department say there is not yet a signed contract guaranteeing the town fire protection service for 2014.

Town Supervisor Larry R. Legault and President William E. “Sandy” Roberts of the fire department board of governors said details are being worked out between the town attorney and the department’s lawyer.

“It’s all been turned over to a lawyer in Syracuse,” Mr. Roberts said. “So that’s pretty much all I can say.”

Town Councilman Roy A. Beshaw, who has been working as a liaison between the board and department, said among the department’s complaints is a new provision in the contract outlining how the town will pay the department in increments.

“They want to get their money up front,” Mr. Beshaw said.

Mr. Legault said that while it was never part of the contract in the past, the town usually pays the department its full allocation early in the year.

The provision in this year’s contract, however, divides the town’s allocation of $118,500 into several payments that will amount to $2,000 more than what the department received this year.

According to the new contract, which was drafted by Town Attorney Eric Gustafson with Town Councilwoman M. Gail Schneider, the department will be paid $56,500 on Jan. 1 and $42,000 when its building loan is due. The final $20,000 will be placed in a joint savings account, including $13,000 for the truck fund, $5,000 for the gear fund and $2,000 for the pager fund.

Mr. Beshaw said the department wants its money up front as it works to come into compliance with OSHA regulations.

“A lot of this has to do with OSHA being in there,” Mr. Beshaw said. “They’re way behind on their inspections and training.”

Mr. Roberts acknowledged that the department is working with OSHA, but said the problems are not unique to Louisville.

“A lot of departments have gotten away with stuff for so long but, sooner or later, it’s going to hit everybody,” he said. “It’s probably not a bad thing. Everything is connected to safety.”

Town Councilman Patrick D. Carroll asked why the fire department was being targeted by OSHA, and Mr. Beshaw said it was the result of an anonymous complaint lodged against the department.

Another change to the contract, one that Mr. Legault said should be beneficial to the department, is instead of paying a flat rate of $2,500 for a year’s worth of fuel, the department will now only be billed for fuel it uses.

When asked what would happen if there is no contract in place before the start of the year, both Mr. Legault and Mr. Roberts said they expect business to continue as normal.

“They realize how important the service is to the community,” Mr. Legault said.

Mr. Roberts agreed. “It will all come together,” he said, adding he hopes to have a new contract in place before February.

Another change to the contract, one that Mr. Legault said should be beneficial to the department, is instead of playing a flat rate of $2,500 for a year’s worth of fuel, the department will now only be billed for fuel it uses.

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