Salamanca city council appoints two firefighters, tables appointment of two others

The Salamanca Fire Department is expected to have two new firefighters join its ranks in September after action by the Common Council during its Aug. 14 meeting.

SALAMANCA — Two appointments in the Salamanca Fire Department were approved Aug. 14 by the Common Council to fill two vacant positions in the department.

First, the council approved the appointment of William Smith of Weston Mills to the position of Assistant Fire Chief, effective Sept. 14, filling the position of Anthony Ellis, who retired.

Next, the council approved the appointment of Levi Wright of Conewango Valley to the position of contingent permanent full-time firefighter with one year probation, effective Sept. 9.

Fire Chief Nick Bocharski said Wright was scheduled to take his paramedic test before starting in the position, which saves the city tens of thousands of dollars not having to send him to training.

“This is one of the ones that we interviewed last time also,” said council member Sandy Magiera, D-Ward 4, who is on the fire commission. “He was paying for his own schooling, so we waited depending on that.”

“That was the best round of interviews I have seen in my 26 or 27 years here,” said Boacharski, commending the fire commission. “They did a real diligent job, both with the assistant chief interviews and the firefighter interviews.”

A resolution appointing two more firefighters to the city was also brought before the council, but they decided to table the appointments until seeing if the city receives state funding to cover their salaries.

“If the state is saying that they will give us money, then we can move ahead with this,” said council member Tim Flanigan, R-Ward 2. “But if we don’t get the money from the state, we’re going to be hiring these two guys and then we’re going to be letting them go in a month probably.”

Bocharski said he understands the council’s position, but had to do his due diligence to inform the council that the department is short staffed. “I know you have to make a hard decision,” he added.

Council member Janet Koch, D-Ward 5, said she is all for the safety of the city and having enough firefighters, but the city is not financially able to bring on two new staff at this time.

“If there’s a fire, I want my house, my neighbor's house, my kid’s house, my friend’s house taken care of,” she added.

“We should get an answer very soon,” Flanigan said of the state getting funds to the city.

“We’re not saying no to you. Just have to make sure the money is here,” added council member John “Jack” Hill, D-Ward 1.

Later during communications from the council, council member Michael Lonto, R-Ward 3, who serves as chaplain for the fire and police departments, said he was hearing rumors that the city was looking at shutting down the fire department.

“That is not going to happen,” Lonto said. “That’s not even come up on our radar.”

Bocharski said one department employee had been told by three different people that the fire and police departments were done. He said he stopped that rumor immediately.

“The council is not going to shut down the fire or police department,” Lonto reiterated. “We need morale high in this time when we’re low.”

IN OTHER BUSINESS, the council had the option to sell two city-owned properties at its Aug. 14 meeting. The decision to sell the first property at 148 Highland Ave. for $55 was tabled after some discussion by the council.

There was a concern expressed that the purchaser does not take care of the other properties in the city that they own. Some of the council members decided they would like to look at the conditions of the properties before authorizing the sale of 148 Highland Ave.

The other property at 322 Broad St. was sold to Dianne Kennedy for $1,500, who lives next door to the acquired property. Another offer by Dario Peynado for $510, which is half the assessed value, was also filed, but not accepted by the council.

ALSO OF NOTE, the council:

  • Approved amending Change Order #1 for the 2019 Amherst Paving contract by $874.89 for a total change order amount of $175,874.89, which was to extend the paving on Main Street north from Elm Street to include West State and East State streets, as approved by Urban Engineers.
  • Established standard work hours for certain elected and appointed officials, as required by the New York State and Local Retirement System.
  • Authorized the City Comptroller to transfer funds in the amount of $1 million from the Special Revenue Savings Account to the General Fund Savings Account if and when necessary.

(Contact managing editor Kellen Quigley at kquigleysp@gmail.com)