The Ticonderoga town board has asked its attorney to review the local fire district budget to determine if it was adopted legally. Ticonderoga Fire District commissioners, though, are confident the budget meets all statutory requirements.
The Ticonderoga town board has asked its attorney to review the local fire district budget to determine if it was adopted legally.
Ticonderoga Fire District commissioners, though, are confident the budget meets all statutory requirements.
The 2012 fire district budget totals $323,590, which is a 22 percent increase — $59,040 — from the 2011 spending plan. The new state tax cap requires that any tax increase of more than 2 percent be approved by 60 percent of a governing body.
Fire commissioners Paul LaRock, Betty Mason, Larry Crammond and Calvin Cross voted to override the tax cap with Jason Parent absent.
“We did everything we were supposed to do,” LaRock said. “We filed with the state comptroller’s office. Everything is OK.”
Once the fire district budget was adopted by commissioners it was given to the town board for inclusion in the town budget. The Ti town board, which kept the 2012 tax increase at less that 2 percent, did not adopt a measure approving any exception to the tax cap.
Since the town did not OK exceeding the tax cap and the fire budget is part of the town budget, was it OK for fire commissioners to up their budget by 22 percent?
“They are separate budgets,” LaRock contends. “The fire district is governed by an elected board of commissioners. We did everything the right way.”
Ticonderoga Supervisor Deb Malaney believes fire commissioners acted properly, but wants to be certain. That’s why the town board has asked the town attorney for an opinion.
“This is the very first time any of us had to deal with the property tax cap,” Malaney said of the 2012 budget process. “Even New York State couldn’t give us procedural directions. There was a lot of confusion. We want to be certain we’re OK.”
LaRock said the fire district budget increased this year because of needed equipment purchases. The fire department needed new radio equipment because of a change in the Essex County dispatch system and firefighters needed to replace old hose at a price of $7,000 per 1,000 feet.
“We were at a point where we had to replace the hose,” LaRock said. “You’re supposed to replace the hose every 10 years, but we didn’t have the money to do it and still pay for the heat, electricity and other equipment.”
Malaney said she’s not concerned with the amount of the fire budget. She just wants to make certain proper procedures were followed.
“If that’s what it takes to protect our citizens, it’s a small price to pay,” Malaney said of the Ti fire budget. “I think out fire department does a wonderful job.”