Fire Company Receives Extension in Pennsylvania

PORT MATILDA -- The Port Matilda Fire Company will be able to keep its fire engine and building for at least another month, thanks to an extension on foreclosure proceedings by the bank holding loans on the building and truck.

Balloon payments of about $200,000 on the hall and truck came due Thursday. However, fire company President Tonia Rudy said Allegheny Bank will give the company and the municipalities it serves until April 30 to hammer out an agreement that would allow Port Matilda and Halfmoon, Worth, Huston and Taylor townships to assume financial control of the fire company.

Taking the financial reins would allow the intergovernmental group to refinance those loans by obtaining a state loan at 2 percent interest.

This is the fourth time the bank has extended payments.

Rudy, the fire company's president, said she received a fax informing her of the bank's decision Wednesday night. The fax also stated that its lending institution wanted municipalities that have been lobbying to assert financial control of the fire company to answer "a few more questions" about the agreement by Monday.

When asked if she believed an agreement between the fire company and its municipalities could be hammered out by the April 30 deadline, she said, "I think so, I honestly do."

"If we work hard, we can get something workable for the both of us," Rudy said. "I'm definitely relieved."

The fire company last month rejected an agreement proposed by the townships because it sought to assert operational control over the company as well.

With the deadline for making the balloon payments coming due, and the fire company lacking the money to make the payments, municipal officials and fire company members met Monday to try to arrive at a compromise agreement.

They worked into the early morning hours Tuesday to hammer out a working agreement that deleted most references giving the municipalities administrative control that had been part of the original proposal.

"Some things, we just had questions about," said firefighter Paul Pirosko. "We're trying to do what's best for the community."

The agreement still must be approved by the municipalities involved.

Lee Pressler, a Halfmoon Township resident and former fire company task force member, attended Monday's meeting to watch the discussion. He said he was happy with both how willing the officials were to meet halfway and with the resulting document.

"We had to be careful to not put administrative restraints on the fire company," he said. "If we don't give them room to maneuver, they won't be able to run."

Erin L. Nissley contributed to this report.

Distributed by the Associated Press