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Brownville-area fire officials seek to create joint district

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BROWNVILLE — Firefighters are generally known for sliding down poles to respond to blazes, carbon monoxide alarms or cats in trees.

But later this month, they’re hoping the residents of Brownville will amble up to a different kind of poll — to vote for a measure that would increase taxes but, in the long run, could mean savings and properly equipped emergency responders.

Fire officials in Brownville want to create a joint district for the town, the village and the village of Dexter.

It would represent a critical lifeline for the struggling departments, officials said.

“The town and village fathers have come to realize that it takes money to keep the operation running,” said Keith W. Alexander, president of the Dexter Volunteer Fire Department.

Property owners in the town of Brownville, which doesn’t have its own fire department, pay 60 cents per $1,000 of assessed value on their property tax bills to contract with the villages’ fire departments.

Village residents pay about the same for their fire protection, Mr. Alexander said.

If the measure is passed at an Aug. 31 vote, property owners would pay $1.05 per $1,000 for fire protection. Skyrocketing equipment costs and anemic fundraising results have put Dexter’s fire department in a bind, Mr. Alexander said.

Officials will hold a public information session on the plan, which is two years in the making, at 7 p.m. today at the Dexter Fire Department, 100 Canal St.

Sessions also will be held Aug. 17 at the Brownville Fire Department, 121 Brown Blvd., and Aug. 22 at the Dexter fire hall on Pillar Point, 11430 Middle Road.

Polls will be open from noon to 8 p.m. Aug. 31 at the Brownville Town Hall, 16431 Star School House Road, Dexter. Residents of the town and village of Brownville and the village of Dexter are eligible to vote.

Despite the possible concern over a hike in taxes, Mr. Alexander said, in the end, it could save taxpayers money. The joint department could take out a combined insurance policy, which would be cheaper, and purchase equipment in bulk.

“There could be the potential for some savings down the road,” Mr. Alexander said. “How much, it’s impossible to predict.”

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