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Fire district’s budget accidentally omitted; Shortage of $15,000

By Isabel Braverman
May 28, 2014

NARROWSBURG, NY — The Narrowsburg Fire District lost out on $15,000 when their budget was omitted from the county tax roll due to a clerical error. Every year, the district prepares and presents a budget at a public hearing. The budget was approved and was supposed to be authorized by the town clerk and then sent to the county. However, somewhere along the line, it was lost and was therefore not included in the county tax roll.

The Tusten Town Board discussed this issue at its recent meeting, and tried to help the fire district. A few options were suggested. The board, members of the fire district, and the town clerk went back and forth trying to figure out what happened. It seems that no one had an answer, so now steps are being taken to move forward, among others by the New York State Comptroller’s Office and the town attorney Jeff Clemente.

The fire district set its 2014 budget for anticipated expenses and state and federal mandates. These include vaccines for Hepatitis C, personal escape systems, and a new radio communications system. The district has reserve funds to be used to purchase fire trucks, which they may be able to use to cover the cost of the omission.

As of a few days ago, Supervisor Carol Wingert said there have been no updates. “I’m trying to figure out something where we can help them out, but it may not be possible,” she said. The board discussed a 1996 law that allowed the town to cover the cost of a playground, because it was for the welfare of the children. They think that the same law can apply to this situation, but Wingert said since it happened a while ago it may not hold up today.

Wingert said there are legal obstacles due to the fact that the town can’t give anything from its funds to the district, because the district only covers Narrowsburg and not the entire Town of Tusten. She said it’s not legal to take from one group of taxpayers and give to another one. “I’d like to keep things legal… I don’t feel comfortable doing something that’s not the right thing to do,” she said. “But helping them out would be the right thing to do, so it’s a Catch-22. We’re trying.”