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Orchard Park board contemplates emergency coordination team

Orchard Park is considering forming an incident management team to coordinate responses to emergencies and disasters.

"We would respond to any incident that would require coordination between agencies," Orchard Park Police Officer William Hanrahan said.

Hanrahan, the town's disaster coordinator, told Town Board members Wednesday night that the team, made up of representatives of the Police, Engineering and Highway departments and fire district, would report to the board.

"Since 9/1 1, the federal government has changed the requirements for emergency management," Hanrahan said.

The town's disaster management plan must be approved by Erie County, the state and eventually the Federal Emergency Management Agency. If the plan is not approved, the town would not be reimbursed for costs during a declared emergency, he said.

The town's plans for all emergencies would be combined into one. Members of the team would need training, but departments and agencies would work together as they always have, he said.

The Orchard Park Fire District has supported disaster coordination in the past but will not in the future, he said.

"It's gotten to the point where it's going to take more personnel, more time and more resources from the town," Hanrahan said.

The team is not proposing paid positions but is looking for the town to pay for training members to be certified for a Level 3 incident management team.

The bulk of the work will involve reworking the emergency plan. Board members told Hanrahan to prepare a proposed budget for budget discussions this fall.

"In this economic climate, you need to be as conservative as you can be," Councilwoman Nan Ackerman said.

Also Wednesday night, the Town Board met with its accountant, Wayne Drescher, who discussed capital accounts and gave a brief overview of the 2 percent annual limit on increasing the property levy, recently signed into law by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.

Municipalities will have to budget carefully and time their borrowing, Drescher warned, because debt payments are included in the limit.

"There are lots of twists and turns," he said. "It will be a fun budget year."