WEST MIDDLESEX – Borough council is considering how to move forward in its relationship with West Middlesex Volunteer Fire Department.
West Middlesex council met for almost 90 minutes Tuesday in executive session about a plan for the fire department. After the meeting, council members were tight-lipped about what transpired.
Cindy Gilkey, council’s president, didn’t give any details of the meeting and called it a closed executive session to deal with personnel.
“We’re looking at all of our options,’’ Gilkey said of discussions dealing with the fire department.
Some of the bitter relationship began with merger talks between West Middlesex Fire Department and Shenango Township Volunteer Fire Department. Discussions on combining the two departments began in 2018. Negotiations between the two agencies have been stalled since November.
Council approved a measure last week to hire an administrator to oversee the fire department and offered the position to Shenango Township fire Chief Justin Barnes, who turned down the offer.
After the measure passed Rich Garrett, assistant fire chief for West Middlesex, submitted his resignation at the council meeting. Don Hoover, fire chief for West Middlesex, resigned his post on Thursday and was expelled from the fire department, fire department President Adam Garrett, said.
The West Middlesex fire department is a separate registered non-profit organization that isn’t directly controlled by the borough.
However, the two entities have a relationship. The borough collects three mills — about $36,000 — in property taxes for the fire department and pays a stipend to the fire chief and assistant fire chief. The borough also owns the fire department headquarters.