By KIM SMITH DEDAM
---- — SANTA CLARA — The Town Council here recently approved funding for fire and rescue service contracts with nearby towns.
Sparsely populated, the rural community does not have its own fire department or rescue squad.
Recent census data report the town’s population hovers just shy of 400 people, with a population density of about 2.2 people per square mile.
Two recent public hearings allocated funds to Paul Smiths-Gabriels Volunteer Fire Department and to the Village of Saranac Lake for fire protection this year.
The Town Council approved an annual contract of $57,265 with Saranac Lake to cover the Santa Clara Fire Protection District, an area that extends from the Santa Clara town line to Moss Rock Road.
The cost of fire coverage increased slightly this year, up from $56,781, according to town meeting records.
That figure is based on real-property assessments.
Town meeting records show that other fire contracts are not assessment-based.
According to council minutes, Santa Clara is paying $5,254 this year to the Paul Smiths-Gabriels Volunteer Fire Department to provide fire protection for Bay Pond area residents, the second year of a three-year agreement.
“The proposed contract was discussed by those in attendance and considered a very fair contract,” meeting minutes noted.
In addition, the Town Council agreed to pay a $29,333, one-year contract with Saranac Lake Volunteer Ambulance Squad for pre-hospital emergency care and transport services.
Emergency transport costs are billable to health-insurance carriers.
In approving rescue service, the Town Council allowed that the ambulance squad “will bill patients through their insurers, including Medicare and Medicaid.”
The rescue service “will not seek to collect co-pay deductibles from the (town) residents but will seek co-pays for (service to) non-residents.”
A number of family camps and high-end lodging properties are located on the Upper and Middle Saranac Lakes shoreline sections in the Town of Santa Clara.
All fire and emergency response contracts were approved unanimously after public hearings held ahead of the regular council meetings.
Other discussion at recent meetings includes:
New Town Hall: Santa Clara allocated $100,000 in seed funding this fiscal year to construct a new, energy-efficient town hall on town property near the highway garage. Councilman Dave Perry has researched numerous “green” funding sources available, but so far has not found a good match.
Perry is working with Syracuse University on plans for the green building, which would be heated and powered by alternative energy sources.
The Town Council allocated up to $1,000 per trip for Perry’s travel to and from Syracuse University. In February, the councilor plans to provide the board with resumes of people from the university who will assist with the building project.
Garage savings: The council already achieved energy-cost savings by re-roofing the highway garage, where they also gather for Town Council meetings. Earlier this month, the town “used 800 gallons less fuel than last year in the District 2 garage because of the new roof that was installed over the summer,” minutes from a recent meeting said. “That is a saving of about $1,832.45.”
Webb said they will look into roofing improvements to the front of the garage building, as well.
Besides Webb and Perry, members of the current board are Councilors Thomas Kimpton, Richard Lyon and Philip Durkin. Laurie McGill is the town clerk.
The next Town Council session is 7 p.m. Feb. 14.
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