Firefighters got a new contract on August 28, but Lumberland Fire Department President Ann Schulte Steimle said that the first she’d heard its details was upon Supervisor Nadia Rajsz reading the document earlier that evening.
The town board held a public hearing on the contract last Wednesday.
The contract’s $190,000 support wasn’t in question; the five-year time frame was.
Councilman Ron Thiele called for an even-numbered term, as the highway department contract would come due on odd-years.
Steimle initially suggested three years, citing equipment replacement costs, but felt “Two years would be fine.”
Councilman James Akt said, “We’ll bail you out… If there’s a problem with the contract, we’ll hash it out.”
Rajsz had said the contract would continue at $190,000 for its term, but could also be reopened by either the town or the department.
“How much is it going to cost us?” one resident asked.
Another said that figures on the department’s fundraising should be available to the public.
Rajsz said the tax impact and the $190,000 support are the same as in the current year. However, she added that she has learned that fire departments with revenues over $200,000 may be required to file an audited IRS report.
Steimle said she had already filed the department’s IRS 990 report.
“We’re not looking for more money,” Steimle said. “I pay taxes too—for the service I volunteer for. We don’t want more.”
The town board approved the two-year contract, which also includes payments toward future purchase of enhanced fire department radios. The contract now goes to the fire department for membership approval.
In a separate contract issue, the board decided to renew the six-year contract of its full-time, sole appointed assessor, Judy Flieger, who earns $31,000 annually, plus benefits.
During discussion, Rajsz noted that most Sullivan towns have part-time, sole assessors and assessor clerks.
Others wanted to retain Flieger as a full-time employee, even if the clerk position was eliminated. “This town isn’t part-time anymore,” said code enforcement officer Dave Sparling.
Summarizing the discussion, Rajsz said, “I’m hearing full-time assessor and no clerk.”
Flieger’s contract was approved unanimously.
Visitor center proposal
Rajsz also announced that Lumberland has applied for $325,000 through a New York State Consolidated Funding Application (CFA) grant. The money would partially fund the purchase of a 2.3 acre parcel on Route 97, adjoining the National Park Service Ranger Station south of Barryville.
The property, which has an existing apartment building known as the “Coop” on it, is proposed for a visitor center to be jointly managed with the NPS.
Rajsz said the town has acquired a “right -of-first-refusal” option on the land, which would be further developed with $250,000 to be secured by state Senator John Bonacic.
She said needed work would include improving a bridge on the property and creating an emergency river access.
Thiele noted that the only cost to the town would be the loss of a $300,000 property from the tax rolls.
The board approved an authorization for the supervisor to purchase the property.