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The East Aurora Village Board is poised to set a public referendum on a firefighters service award program that would allow volunteer members of the East Aurora Fire Department to earn points toward a pension plan.

Under the proposal discussed at the board's Monday night work session, Unity Mutual Insurance Co. would administer a plan whereby firemen could earn points toward a maximum of 20 years of service, or more than $400 a month once they retire.

The intention of the plan is to keep active firefighters and recruit new ones, officials said. Village Administrator Patrick E. Richey said the program, if approved by village voters, probably during the March election, would add about $17.25 a year to the tax bill of a home assessed at $70,000. "It's still less than a paid fire department," Trustee Barbara Lamond said.

Richey said neighboring districts such as West Falls, South Wales, Springbrook and Elma have similar programs that were put in place essentially to stem the tide of dwindling membership in the all-volunteer units. He suggested establishing a committee made up of board members and volunteer firemen to oversee the program.

The only debate was over when to put the issue up to a public vote. Trustee Randy Taylor, who is a firefighter, and Mrs. Lamond saw no reason to wait until the March election and wanted the measure to go before voters by the end of the year. Deputy Mayor Christine Peters said she felt that more residents would come out to vote during the March election, while Trustee Donald Nieman said that "obviously, the very interested parties would vote" during a special election, which would not attract a representative group of village residents.

Richey said the plan would be amortized over five years, costing taxpayers about $62,000 over that period and considerably less after that. "They could have gone for the Cadillac but took a middle-of-the-road approach," Mayor John Pagliaccio said of the firefighters.

In other business, the board has not yet received an application from the Town of Aurora or Presbyterian Homes of Western New York requesting a tie-in to the village's sewer system for a proposed retirement community in the town at Mill and Sweet roads.

The board announced that Urusi Construction is seeking a two-week extension of its contract to reconstruct North, Pratt and Green streets. The project was to be completed Oct. 6.

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