Lyndon moves forward to join forces with Louisville Fire - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Lyndon moves forward to join forces with Louisville Fire

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The board voted unanimously at the end of a two hour meeting Monday. The board voted unanimously at the end of a two hour meeting Monday.
Greg Frederick Greg Frederick

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The cash-strapped Lyndon Fire District Board voted to move forward on a service agreement with the Louisville Fire Department that some said was necessary to ensure safety.

The board voted unanimously at the end of a two hour meeting Monday to consider a plan that would turn Lyndon firefighters into Metro government employees. Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer agreed to pursue the proposal earlier Monday, Louisville Fire Chief Greg Frederick said.

Lyndon is the first suburban fire district to publicly consider a service agreement with Louisville, but others are watching closely because of their own financial problems, Frederick said.

"I know there are some that are interested," he said.

Lyndon's fire officials said the plan was their best opportunity to hire firefighters and keep the city's second fire station open.

"Right now, we're running three firefighters on a truck, and it's not the safest way," said Sheryl Smith of the fire board. National standards suggest four firefighters on a truck.

The fire district has periodically closed its second station because of staffing shortfalls. It can't raise taxes on Lyndon residents because state law limits the tax to 10 cents per every $100 of assessed value.

Louisville Fire officials said they could run Lyndon's operation more efficiently by reducing administrative costs. Lyndon would continue to pay their firefighters with the tax money it collects.

Lyndon firefighters were concerned that their pay, benefits and rank wouldn't carry over if they became Metro employees.

Fire officials couldn't provide a final answer to them Monday, saying that the plans were still in the early stages.

"We will try to maintain a level of at least (the compensation) they have now," Frederick said.

Leaders from other suburban fire departments, including St. Matthews, came to the meeting. Some doubted how much money the agreement would save Lyndon.

"Five years down the road, they could be in the same scenario -- they're out of money again," St. Matthews Fire Chief Bill Seng said.

Seng said his department was financially solid for another five to 10 years, but acknowledged other suburban departments may only be a year or two away from being in Lyndon's position.

"Somewhere down the road, we're all in the same boat," he said. "Unless (the legislature) changes that tax law."

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