Richard Kasko's backers step up

Scotia residents made it clear Wednesday, April 9, that many of them are not in favor of eliminating the fire chief's position, a proposal that is currently being discussed as a way to cut village costs.

Nearly 60 people turned out for the normally scarcely attended Village of Scotia Board of Trustees meeting in response to talks of eliminating the position of fire chief, currently held by Richard Kasko.

Many volunteer firefighters, longtime residents and members of the Scotia Permanent Fireman's Association came to show their support for Kasko.

Firefighter Tom Gifford, who has served for more than 20 years, said that the department fought hard to get the position of fire chief approved years ago.

He said that he feels the position is necessary for the safety of residents of the village.

This is a position that we depend on and that is essential, said Gifford.

President of the Fireman's Association Ken Almy said when the union first learned of the possibility of Kasko's position being eliminated to cut costs, he felt as though the board was not thinking of the welfare of the community.

"This is a matter of safety. You need this position to run the department. From training to code enforcement -- it's necessary," said Almy.

The fire department budget has long been under scrutiny by the village for its use of sick time and overtime pay. Most recently, the department was also under a microscope over its three-man shift model.

Mayor Kris Kastberg has said that the village is actually just looking to eliminate funding for the position, not eliminate the position itself.

Almy called this a "mixed message."

"I think by saying you are not funding a position, you are saying the position is not essential. It feels like a game," said Almy.

The board went into an executive session, where they voted to eliminate the lieutenant fire chief position, which is currently not filled.

The board will meet again on Tuesday, April 22, to continue to discuss proposed $5.7 million budget for 2008-2009.""

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