Town officials put fire departments on notice
The town sending letters to fire departments to work toward contracts that charge the same amounts.
RHINEBECK, N.Y. » Town Board members are sending letters to the three fire departments that provide coverage in the town to work toward contracts that charge the same amounts to property owners inside and outside of taxing districts.
The request was discussed during a Town Board meeting Monday, with Councilman Alan Scherr saying the departments should not charge more for coverage in “protection” districts.
“These letters are informing the fire departments that what we’re going to do is pay ... a portion of their budget equivalent to the ratio of the assessed value they are covering for us versus the total of all the assessed value that they are covering with their budget,” he said.
Fire department budgets are established with a levy charged to properties within a tax district. Coverage provided outside of the tax district is arranged through a contract with the town and those properties pay for the agreement through the municipal tax levy.
Supervisor Elizabeth Spinzia said the protection district properties need to be charged the same tax rate as properties in the tax districts.
“We’re looking for parity,” she said.
In the letters, Spinzia stated the town will take that approach to contracts beginning with the next budgets.
“We intend to use this approach in future years and will update the percentage if and when assessed values change,” she wrote. “Also, the budget that the town funds would be increased or decreased by any fire department budget overexpenditure or underexpenditure.”
There are three departments covering fire protection districts in the town:
• Rhinebeck Fire Department, which is paid $190,000 to cover 1,276 properties in the town and has 1,245 properties within its own district. The tax rate per $1,000 assessed value was 33 cents for district residents and 37 cents for contract coverage.
• Rhinecliff Fire Department,
which is paid $62,000 to cover 75 properties outside its district and has 599 properties within its district. The rate per $1,000 assessed value was 36 cents for district properties and $1.07 for contract coverage.
• Hillside Fire Department, which is paid $32,000 to cover 172 properties outside its district and has 448 properties within its district. The rate per $1,000 assessed value was 46 cents for district properties and 62 cents for contract coverage.
“I believe we’re going to be able to successfully reach a value that’s agreed to by both parties,” Rhinebeck village Mayor Gary Bassett said. “I’m very encouraged by the cooperation I’m getting from the town with our fire department and we’re working closely together.”
Officials for the Rhinecliff and Hillside fire departments were not immediately available for comment.