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Vote could break impasse between Carnegie council, VFD

| Tuesday, April 9, 2013, 10:42 a.m.

Carnegie officials are set to vote on an ordinance that could resolve some of the issues between the borough and its fire department.

Borough council voted 6-0 at its meeting Monday night to advertise an ordinance that recognizes the Carnegie Volunteer Fire and Rescue Bureau as the borough's official fire company. Council will vote on passing the ordinance at its May 13 meeting.

“Council has confirmed that the Carnegie volunteer fire department will be Carnegie's fire department,” council President Rick D'Loss said. “I think the chapter which was many years long of possibly the borough going outside for fire service is put to rest this evening.”

Before the vote, however, some of the issues between the borough and the fire department came to light again.

Council members Pat Catena, Mike Sarsfield and Bob Veres voted against the April bill list because of lingering issues regarding the borough's payment of the fire department's land and building mortgages. Of the $142,000 the borough provides the fire department yearly, $107,000 goes toward the monthly mortgages.

Veres began voting against the bill list in January, he said, because the fire department is listed as the property owner despite the borough paying the mortgage. Catena joined him in casting a dissenting vote at the March meeting because, he said, the EMS also occupies the building, and the borough's money is specifically earmarked for the fire department. Sarsfield joined the two dissenters Monday for the same reasons.

The dissenting votes Monday caused a 3-3 tie, which Mayor Jack Kobistek broke by voting to pay the mortgages. He accused the dissenters of playing politics, adding he wasn't “going to vote to close the doors on the fire department.”

“There needs to be some sort of respect as far as when you make a decision like that, then it has to be communicated and not a blind-side vote,” Kobistek said. “And I think, especially with one person, it was a blind-side vote.”

Catena objected to the mayor's characterization. So did Sarsfield, who has filed a petition to run for mayor.

“When I vote, I vote with my conscience — my heart — not with political motivation,” Sarsfield said.

D'Loss said in addition to recognizing the Carnegie Fire and Rescue Bureau as the borough's official fire department, the ordinance addresses issues with training and a conflict of interest regarding the leadership of the fire department and EMS. Council and fire officials will meet during the budgeting process to discuss funding.

“We can then move forward to address the concerns that we have about the finances, particularly the mortgage, which is the big-ticket item,” D'Loss said.

Doug Gulasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-8527 or dgulasy@tribweb.com.

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