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Revenues of Fire Dept. are at issue in meeting

Questions about the revenues received by the Fire Department resulted in some heated comments that were hosed down Monday evening by the assistant fire chief.

At the workshop meeting of the Village Board prior to the open session Monday, Mayor Kurt Lindstrom and Trustee Anthony Borrello exchanged words about whether the Fire Department needed to file Form 990 with the Internal Revenue Service.

Lindstrom said it was his understanding that the department did not need to file if it received less than $25,000 a year in donations.

Borrello and Trustee David Fancher want to see proof that the department receives less than the cutoff amount.

In the regular meeting, Assistant Fire Chief Todd Johnson said the department would discuss financial issues if the village attorney were present. Johnson said fire departments that operate under a municipality, which includes Silver Creek, are exempt from the 990 reporting.

He said that they only would be required to report if their gross revenues are over the $25,000 limit.

"As assistant fire chief, I can tell you we don't get enough money and we provide a great service," Johnson said.

He said 73 percent of the calls answered by the rescue squad are outside the village and within the Town of Hanover. He also said that the Town of Hanover does not include payments for ambulance service in its contract.

Johnson said that he has concerns about other area calls and contends that there is the potential for a strike by the local paid ambulance service run by WCA Services.

"There is the potential for a strike on Dec. 31," Johnson said.

Johnson also commented on the third-party billing system for the rescue squad. He said they looked into the issue and found that the fees and other costs involved with sending bills to insurance carriers would outweigh the payments received.

"We are a basic life-support ambulance and our problem is we are not certified," Johnson said in response to questions about billing for more expensive services. The rescue squad and the Fire Department are all-volunteer organizations.

Board members took action to agree to move any unused funds from the Fire Department into a capital fund to save for another fire truck.

In other matters, talks about sharing services with the Town of Hanover have started with ideas in the Water and Sewer departments.

Lindstrom confirmed that the idea of new meters that are read remotely and some other products are part of talks to share services between the two municipalities.

The village is seeking grant funds to help pay for remote meter-reading devices. Lindstrom insists that the new meters will save on labor costs.

A request to apply for an federal license to use the meters was tabled pending further cost analysis of the meter program.

Village offices will be closed Thursday and Friday for the Thanksgiving holiday.

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