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Carnegie agenda-setting session centers on all-too-familiar topic

| Thursday, Jan. 30, 2014, 3:54 p.m.

Borough and community leaders spent much of their time at Monday's agenda-setting meeting discussing ways the borough can move forward in 2014.

The bulk of the meeting was spent discussing the ongoing issues between the borough and the Carnegie Volunteer Fire and Rescue Bureau, namely the long-tabled ordinance that would establish the bureau as the official fire company of Carnegie.

Councilman Phil Boyd, also a volunteer fireman, laid out research he had done pertaining to other municipalities and their emergency services. He said that while specifics and circumstances varied, emergency services that occupied space free of charge was the standard among those he looked at.

“It is not uncommon in the industry,” he said.

Some members of council maintain that the Carnegie Emergency Management Services, which is headquartered in the same building as the fire department, should pay rent. It currently does not. In addition, the borough has been providing the fire department with money for mortgage payments for more than five years. There is $680,000 owed on the fire department's building, and council had requested that department officials look into refinancing options.

Discussions revolved around the options council has regarding relations with the department, though consensus remains that council wants to keep the department in the borough.

Actions discussed included continuing to pay the department's mortgage at the current rate and move forward with the ordinance.

“Just let it go,” Councilwoman Sue Demko said. “Just do what we're doing and pass the ordinance.”

Councilman Rick D'Loss agreed.

Boyd said another option would be to take out a low-interest loan to pay off the money owned on the building.

Solicitor Joe Lucas said he would not support such an idea, as it would leave the borough with no ability to stop the department from then selling the building or using it as collateral.

No action was taken, but council agreed that forward progress is needed.

“We have spent too much time and too much money on this over the years,” council President Pat Catena said.

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