MASSENA - The village board voted Tuesday night to table a resolution that would have created an addendum to the villages management agreement with its fire department foreman, Ken McGowan.
I would like to see the code enforcement office as a side utility of the fire department, said Massena Mayor James F. Hidy, noting that Mr. McGowan would then be named the departments lead agent with other paid firefighters working as code enforcement officers and technicians.
Mr. Hidy said that since the fire department has taken over code enforcement duties he believes they have done a tremendous job.
Village Trustee Timothy J. Ahlfeld asked Mr. Hidy about the status of an intermunicipal agreement between the village and town, that seems to have hit a snag following the resignation of former code enforcement officer Peter T. Devine, who only held the job for one week.
Where do we stand with that agreement? Mr. Ahlfeld asked.
Quite honestly, I dont know, Mr. Hidy replied. There are some things that need to be ironed out.
Trustee Albert C. Herb Deshaies said that before there can be an agreement, both sides must first agree on whats the document will contain.
Youve got to have two to have an agreement, he said, referring to the intermunicipal agreement Mr. Ahlfeld asked about.
In regards to the memorandum of understanding before the board Tuesday night Trustee Francis J. Carvel said he wasnt sure if altering a contract was such a good idea.
Arent we doing this now? If it aint broke, dont fix it, he said, adding that once something enters a contract its very hard to change.
Once its in a contract, its negotiated, Mr. Carvel said. If its a policy, its easier to get it out down the road.
Mr. McGowan said he wasnt sure if the memorandum of understanding was the proper way to officially put the fire department in charge of code enforcement, but he was looking for something in writing from the village.
Something had to be put on paper, he said.
The tabled agreement consisted of several sections.
1) The village of Massena Fire Department foreman is hereby designated as the village of Massena code enforcement officer and will assume management responsibilities for the village of Massena code enforcement office.
2) The village of Massena fire department foreman shall be trained as a NYS code enforcement official.
3) The village of Massena fire department foreman will be responsible for all aspects of code enforcement within the village boundaries including, but not limited to: commercial fire inspections, new construction inspections, consumer complaints, tenant and landlord complaints, and other enforcement duties.
The agreement also included a fourth portion, which garnered discussion at the meeting.
4) The village of Massena fire department foreman will assist the town of Massena with commercial fire inspections and other code enforcement issues on an emergency basis, as long as an agreement exists between the village and town of Massena.
We have language in the contract that is contradictory to this resolution, Mr. Ahlfeld said.
Mr. Hidy disagreed with the comment, noting this resolution only applied to the departments foreman.
This is about dealing with the foreman, he said, to which Mr. Carvel replied, It is still a contract we are changing.
Mr. Hidy voiced frustration over the ongoing drama with the villages code enforcement office.
The problem with government is its too cumbersome, he said. If this was the public sector, it would be done in a day.
Mr. Hidy then suggested having the village boards fire committee meet with Mr. McGowan and village attorney Matthew H. McArdle to iron out a resolution to bring before the board at its next meeting.
Mr. Ahlfeld questioned the need for the village attorney at that session. We dont have to waste his time drafting a policy, he said. Were trying to legislate something that doesnt need to be legislated. All hes going to do is throw a bunch of adverbs in there thats going to cost you money. I dont think we need to saddle Matt with this.