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Gray growing frustrated over fire inspection debate


MASSENA - When the Massena Town Board adopted a new fee schedule for inspection fees and agreed to let the village keep the revenue collected from those charges earlier this month, Town Supervisor Joseph D. Gray said he thought the issues related to fire inspections for the town would go away.

They haven’t.

At this week’s village board meeting, Mayor James F. Hidy instructed the village’s career firefighters, who would handle the inspections, to look into whether they would collect more money by accepting the inspection fees or by accepting a flat rate of payment of $5,000 as they had done in the past.

“We certainly don’t want to sell ourselves short,” Mr. Hidy said.

Mr. Gray said he is confused and questioning why every time the town and village try to work together complications arise.

“It’s very frustrating. I don’t understand what the problem is,” Mr. Gray said. “They (fire inspections) don’t even cost the village a dime. They’re already paying for the firefighters and any revenue they get would be a bonus.”

“We haven’t had fire inspections done in the town of Massena in over a year,” he said. “I don’t know what the delay is.”

Mr. Hidy said he doesn’t know why the town hasn’t done any fire inspections.

“We don’t have an agreement with them,” he said. “I’ve reached out to them on numerous occasions to see if they wanted us to with the inspections, but I never received an answer.”

Without an agreement in place, Mr. Hidy said the responsibility of fire inspections would fall to the town’s code enforcement office.

“For us that wouldn’t be a code enforcement issue, as the inspections would be performed by our career firefighters under the auspices of the fire department,” he said. “Had their been an agreement in place it would have been our career firefighters handling the inspections.”

Mr. Gray said the town had budgeted $5,000 to pay the village for the inspections last year, but without an intermunicipal agreement in place no inspections were done.

“Every time we turn around there is another complication,” he said. “If there is a difference, it would be a pittance.”

Mr. Gray also said he’s not the only one growing frustrated.

“For the first time in 20 years, I’m hearing people say, ‘Do we really need two governments for a town of our size?’” he said. “I wouldn’t think this would be such a complicated or difficult thing to accomplish.”

Mr. Gray said he’s not sure exactly what the village is looking for, but he does know that if the town is going to pay them for conducting the inspections than the town is going to be the one receiving the inspection fees.

“They can’t have it both ways,” he said. “Do they want the revenue from the inspections or $5,000?”

Mr. Gray said members of the town board agreed unanimously to allow the village to receive the inspection fees.

“Everybody on our end, and at least one person on their end, Tim Ahlfeld, thought everything would be easier for them to take the inspection fees,” he said.

Mr. Hidy said after speaking with the career firefighters Foreman Ken McGowan collecting inspection fees appears to be the way the village will go.

“As it turned out with Ken doing the research we asked him to, it seems that with the number of businesses in the town requiring fire inspections would bring in enough fees to surpass the $5,000 flat rate total,” he said. “Obviously we’ll opt to collect the fees for the time being.”

Mr. Hidy said he’s expecting the village board at their next meeting to authorize the career firefighters to begin inspections outside the village but in the town of Massena.

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