Leechburg firefighters seek commitment from borough

| Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013, 12:21 a.m.

Leechburg Council will vote next month on a 20- to 24-year extension of the annual $32,500 appropriation for the Leechburg Volunteer Fire Department.

The vote will determine whether the department will able to buy a fire truck worth between $700,000 and $1.25 million, according to fire Capt. Dave Safranyos.

If approved, council President Tony Defilippi said the funding won't raise taxes on Leechburg residents. They've supported the funding since 1998, when the borough originally signed a support contract with the firefighters.

Without the truck, borough homeowners will face a rise in insurance rates, according to Leechburg Councilman and fire Chief Tom Foster.

“This truck does everything,” he said.

The New Jersey-based Insurance Services Office (ISO) assesses municipalities' firefighting capabilities across the country and assigns subsequent ratings. The lower the number rating, the lower the insurance premiums, Foster said.

The Leechburg Volunteer Fire Department now has one fire truck and a broken aerial ladder. Safranyos said it would cost between $25,000 and $50,000 to repair the ladder.

The desired truck, from fire equipment manufacturer Rosenbauer, features a 101-foot aerial ladder that can be operated from the cab.

“Right now, the closest working aerial is in Vander-grift,” Safranyos said. “That's 10, 15 minutes away. We have several nine-story buildings here and it's really essential to the borough's safety.”

Safranyos said the department raises about $137,000 each year between community donations and state and federal grants, but can only survive with the support it receives from the borough.

Council will vote on the funding extension at its Nov. 19 meeting, when it will present a preliminary 2014 general fund budget. Borough residents will have ten days after that to review and comment on the budget before council votes on Dec. 19 to put the 2014 budget into effect.

Officials at Tuesday's meeting refused to speculate on general fund figures as they continue working to balance the budget.

Areas that still need to be addressed, according to Councilman Dan Logero, are workers' compensation, sewer use and recently awarded contracts.

“Our main concern as we figure out the budget is taxes,” Logero said. “We're going to do everything in our power to not raise them, and I don't think we'll have to.”

In other business

• Shank Sanitation Inc. was awarded Tuesday with a three-year, $461,832 contract to handle Leechburg's garbage services. The Arnold-based company outbid Waste Management for the second time since 2008 for the Leechburg contract.

• Council on Tuesday waived two provisions of the storm water management ordinance to allow the development of a mini storage facility in the former ATI Allegheny Ludlum parking lot.

Braden Ashe is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4673 or bashe@tribweb.com.

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