By Lindsey Kuglin, WHT Reporter
Brockton won’t be alloting money to the Elmwood Fire Board in the 2012 budget, but will instead put money into the fire department, and bill West Grey for services.
Brockton Council approved a proposal for a five-year fire service agreement with West Grey, at the May 28 meeting, although the two sides continue to dispute the increase of fire service costs Brockton would charge.
As such, Brockton will proceed with the budget as though the joint board is dissolved, although there was a board meeting scheduled for next week.
“We can only go down one road,” said Brockton Coun. Chris Peabody, who also sits on the fire board. “It would send a contradictory message to still be meeting at the joint board.” He says Brockton should skip the meeting.
Brockton agreed to West Grey’s request for an extension of the board until July 31 so the two sides can come to an agreement.
The Ontario Fire Marshal will be releasing a report sometime this week regarding the dissolution fire board. West Grey Mayor Kevin Eccles asked for the Fire Marshal review, but Peabody said they rarely take sides in these situations.
The Fire Marshal met with both Eccles and Brockton Mayor David Inglis, as well as the Fire chief Mike Murphy on May 29, but details of those meetings were not available as of press time.
The proposed agreement would see West Grey pay $214,000 for 2012 for fire services. That’s more than twice what they paid in 2011. Eccles told the WHT in a previous interview that the cost was “absolutely asinine,” as the total budget for the Elmwood fire department last year was $196,000.
“I was born at night, but not last night,” Eccles said about the proposed cost increases.
However, Peabody said the increase is to upgrade firefighters’ equipment.
“Brockton is committed to bringing our firefighters up to standard and paying for it,” Peabody said, adding saving for a new pumper truck in 2014 is also a reason for the increase.
West Grey gave notice in 2010 that it will be leaving the joint fire department and will instead purchase fire protection from Brockton.
Inglis said Monday that he expects to hear from West Grey regarding the proposed agreement by the end of the week.
– With files from John McPhee