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N.Y. officials hire grant writer for FD funding

The Ogdensburg City Council hired a consultant to assist with AFG, SAFER grants


An Ogdensburg fire engine.

Ogdensburg Professional Firefighters Local 1799/Facebook

By Matt Curatolo
Watertown Daily Times

OGDENSBURG, N.Y. — In an effort to seek more grant funding for the Ogdensburg Fire Department, City Council has hired a consultant to do just that.

MJ Burben Inc., Utica, was hired Monday night at a cost not to exceed $10,000.

The resolution states that the city is “desirous of submitting grants in support of Fire Service including but not limited to FEMA Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) and Staffing For Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER), along with applicable NYS CFA and SAM grants.”

[RELATED: AFG 2023 arrives in 2024: Critical changes you need to know]

The resolution states that MJ Burben Inc. “has successfully guided companies through the process of obtaining government contracts, grants, and loans at the federal, state, and local levels.”

Its chief executive officer, Julie Burline, has more than 25 years of experience in obtaining such funds for first responders, hospitals, municipal infrastructure, school district and corporate entities, according to the resolution.

In a letter to the city, MJ Burben Inc. states that it has participated in more than 60 fire station construction and development projects, as well as 25 law enforcement infrastructure projects, and has such clients as Saratoga Springs and Utica as well as the cities of Denver, Dallas, New Orleans, Key West, as well as a host of fire departments and other entities.

Mayor Michael J. Tooley said the list of clients was impressive and the city should get good value from the service agreement.

The professional services agreement will be in effect from Jan. 17, 2024, through Jan. 17, 2025.

At its last meeting, City Council hired six firefighters to get the city back in compliance with its contract with the Local 1799 and to cut down on overtime and hazard pay costs.

The hiring of a consultant to secure funding for the fire department was sought last winter from the Ogdensburg Professional Firefighters Local 1799, and at the time the union offered to pay for the services, but only if the grant was implemented by City Council. The offer was not pursued.

Councilors Daniel E. Skamperle and Michael B. Powers both said they supported the consultant last winter and support it now.

“This was brought before us before, and we had quite a lengthy discussion with the fire department, etc., and it seems like this lady has an excellent track record,” Skamperle said. “We wanted to approve this before, but the last council wouldn’t, and I am more than happy. I supported it then, and I support it now as well.”

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