Press-Republican

November 14, 2012

In My Opinion: Rise in Ti Fire District budget explained

By TICONDEROGA BOARD OF FIRE COMMISSIONERS
Press-Republican

— There seems to be a misconception about the budget of the Ticonderoga Fire District that we, as the Board of Fire Commissioners, would like to clear up.

First, the Board of Fire Commissioners comprises five residents of the Fire District, who are elected one each year for a term of five years. This election is held every year on the second Tuesday of December.

There is an appointed position of treasurer, and that appointment is made at the regular meeting in December.

All meetings of the board are held on the third Monday of each month, except for January and February due to legal holidays.

The Ticonderoga Fire District is a taxing district, just as the town and the several different departments, only the Town Council has no jurisdiction over the Fire District's budget. The Fire District's budget therefore does not affect the town's tax cap.

The town is required by law to include the Fire District's budget into the tax rolls, collect the amount and issue payment to the district. The Fire District budget for this coming fiscal year is $350,180. The operating budget was down this year to $320,180 compared to last year's $333,590.

This year and the coming years, there will be two capital reserves of $15,000 each. These capital reserves will help us complete some of our long-term goals and help reduce the cost of borrowing large amounts to fund the normal operations of the Fire District.

In 2018 alone, we will have to replace all of the air packs and the air compressor. This alone could be up to a $200,000 project.

As far as the radio project that Essex County is upgrading, this is a project that has been in the works for five-plus years. We are currently dispatched on high band. Because of the large expense of this project, the county decided to stay with low-band paging. There are only four to five companies that are dispatched currently on high band. This leads us to having to purchase "new" pagers.

These pagers cost around $400 each. We have just recently purchased 50 used pagers at a cost of about $6,000. We will continue to look for quality deals with the taxpayers in mind.

The county is supplying us with mobile radios for each vehicle and three of the chiefs. We will be required to purchase a radio for the third assistant chief and digital portables to be able to communicate for fire ground and dispatch operations.

There are many pieces of equipment that have "service life" on them. Those items are figured into the budget.

One example would be that hose has a service life of 10 years. Rather than buying about 10,000 feet of hose every 10 years, we purchase 1,000 feet every year to replace the outdated hose.

We feel that we are being as fiscally responsible as possible while still maintaining the level of service that the residents of the Fire District deserve and want.

The Ticonderoga Fire District is different from the Chilson Fire Protection District in the aspect that Chilson contracts with the town for fire-protection services. The Town Council acts as their board of fire commissioners and has the power to approve or deny monies in how they feel are an appropriate amount. The Chilson budget is subject to acceptance or denial by the Ticonderoga Town Council and therefore affects the 2 percent tax-cap law.

In closing, the Ticonderoga Fire District has anticipated these expenditures that the County Board of Supervisors approved. Many increases are due to cost increases, mandates and equipment replacement.

We are very proud of what we provide to the residents of the Town of Ticonderoga and strive for excellence each and every day.

The members of the Ticonderoga Board of Fire Commissioners are Calvin Cross, Jason Parent, Betty Mason, Raymond Thatcher and Paul LaRock.