Officials in the town of Tupper Lake are squirming over the rate they're being charged for the village's fire department services.
The town is currently paying nearly 70 percent of the budget for the Tupper Lake Volunteer Fire Department. Last year the town bit off about $140,000 of the cost while the village footed the bill for the remaining $60,000, according to town officials.
The village also purchased more than $30,000 for protective clothing and equipment this year and trustees have asked the town to pay back roughly 70 percent of that cost as well.
During Monday night's regular board meeting, Councilwoman Kathy Lefebvre said reimbursing the village for the equipment would not be fair to town residents who are paying a higher rate for other services, including water and sewer.
"We need to start thinking about the people outside the village," she said.
Town and village rates are determined by an equalization of the assessed property values in each municipality. Since the total market value of town properties located outside the village is higher, the town pays a proportionally higher rate for the fire department.
Supervisor Roger Amell said he has been advised that a rate based on assessments isn't legal or accurate.
"We want a set fee like it used to be," he said.
Town officials did not know how a set fee would be calculated, or whether it would save the town money.
"This is something we need to look into," Councilman Shawn Stuart said.
But the town has less than a day to figure it out. The village needs to know if the town is on board by 3 p.m. Wednesday, when it meets to settle its budget for the year.
Amell said a phone call to set up a meeting with the village to renegotiate rates went unreturned, but he said he would work harder to try to set up a meeting with the village before it votes on its budget.
"We totally value the fire department," Amell said, adding that the town does require their services.
The town of Tupper Lake also agreed Monday evening to join an organization called Adirondack Partnership - a group of municipalities and nonprofits that cooperate on projects to develop the region's economy.
The organization was created in 2010 as a forum for community leaders to shape regional economic goals. The group expects to attract grant money and wield more clout in Albany by advancing common goals with a unified voice.
The group is affiliated with the Adirondack Association of Towns and Villages.