Firefighters’ contract tops board meeting

Mary Perham
Ron Delio

Bath volunteer firefighters showed up in force to support their existing contract with the village of Bath Monday night.

More than three dozen firefighters turned out at a standing-room only village board meeting a week after village Trustee Bill von Hagn questioned the terms of the contract.

Fire Chief Ron Delio said there was no reason to question anything in the decades-old contract.

The department was especially concerned any discussion would delay $286,000 in village funds firefighters needed to pay quarterly bills, due in July.

“We need you to pay the contract,” Delio told the Village Board. “This is the same contract we’ve had for years … our department may not look like it took a big (budget cut) this year, $13,000, but remember, we’re volunteers. And as an officer in this department, I’ve had enough of this.”

Von Hagn said he called Delio because he had questions about key details in the contract, specifically some dates and a clause about a 3 percent increase. Von Hagn said the issue could have been settled in private.

Delio said the copy of the contract von Hagn used contained wrong dates.

The 3 percent increase that concerned von Hagn was a clause that would protect the fire department if a contract was lost. Firefighters did not receive the increase, members of the department said later.

Firefighter Mark Conrad told the board the department is aware of the village’s financial difficulties.

“We’re sensitive to cost,” he said. “Some of us work 50, 60 hours a week to provide for our families so we can volunteer and pay our taxes.”

Village Attorney John Leyden told firefighters he would review the 2013 contract and suggested it include a 90-day period for discussion.

Von Hagn said he only asked the questions, and they should not be seen as opposing the department.

“You are my fire department,” he said. “People, some people here, may not know this, but I was a volunteer firefighter.”

Bill vonHagn