Chatham firefighters call for tax hike to buy pumper

CHATHAM–At a workshop meeting last week the Village Board heard from members of the fire company who expressed concerns with what they see as slow progress toward the purchase of a new truck that would cost close to half a million dollars.

Members of the fire company have been coming to the board since January with requests for a new pumper truck to replace an old pumper and a smaller rescue truck. During the winter, the older of the company’s two pumpers was removed from service and the board appointed a fire truck committee to review bid specifications for a new truck. At that time, the board decided the price should not exceed $520,000.

John Howe, who is on the fire truck committee, said, at the May 26 meeting that he felt the board was not willing to move forward with the purchasing the new truck for financial reasons.

“We can’t keep relying on our neighbors,” he said of having one truck out of commission and having to use mutual aid from nearby fire companies to handle fires. “We’re working with one hand tied behind our backs,” he said.

He said that a new truck might cost $490,000 and that the board could vote to increase next year’s village tax levy above the state tax cap to cover the payments for a new truck. “It’s the village’s truck; we’re all in this together,” he said.

Mayor Curran said he was not against purchasing the truck, adding, “I’m just slowing down a little bit.” The mayor continued, saying, “My big concern is: where we are going to come up with the money. It’s a really big nut.”

Assistant Fire Chief Eric Barnes said that fires are up this year from last year and that not having the pumper truck means that some of the taller buildings in the village could be in jeopardy if there is a fire. “Fire aren’t going down,” he said.

Mr. Barnes suggested having a public meeting at the firehouse to discuss moving forward with purchasing the truck.

“I don’t think there is any question that the public supports this,” Mr. Barnes said.

The board will host a meeting on June 14 at 7 p.m. in the fire house. The fire company members will give a presentation on purchasing a fire truck.

Also at the meeting:

• The board approved a two-year garbage contract with County Waste for about $130,000, which is over $9,000 less than the bid from the current hauler. The days and times of pick-ups will stay the same

• Mayor Curran said that the state Department of Environmental Conservation submitted a letter saying “everything is pretty good in the [sewer] plant.” He said the state praised the village staff at the plant but “they are not pleased with the grease in the system.” He said that Price Chopper had had a major grease issue

• Village Clerk Barbara Henry said her office has sent a letter to Chatham Little League about using village water at the Chatham and Ghent Little League fields. The Little League has not paid its bill in several years and the village cannot give away or donate the service. Ms. Henry said the bill was over $1,000 at this point. The league also turns on and off the water during the season, which is not allowed by the village.

The village has not received a response to the letter so Ms. Henry is reaching out by email to the head of the Little League, which owns the fields.

The next village meeting is Thursday, June 9 at 7 p.m. in the Tracy Memorial.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email

 

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