Hampton fire dept. asking for increased funding

T he Hampton Volunteer Fire Department’s president painted a bleak picture of the organization’s ability to remain solvent if the town doesn’t increase its budget.

Eric Mead said without more money the department will have a difficult time covering its expenses.

“Our expenditures are getting above our head,” Mead said. “There’s no more to cut.”

The fire company is in the early stages of putting together its budget for 2013 and has asked the town for $37,000 to help cover operating expenses.

“We’re asking for a $12,000 increase. We know it’s considerable, but our hands are tied. The bottom line is we’re operating at $40,000, but you’re only giving us $25,000,” Mead said.

He said the department is incurring more expenses due to factors outside of its control, such as unfunded mandates.

The Federal Communications Commission has mandated that all public safety and business radio users who currently use wideband technology (25 kHz) convert to narrowband technology (12.5 kHz or less) by Jan. 1 or face stiff fines.

The objective of the mandate is to increase capacity and efficiency by freeing up space on existing radio spectrum. Proponents say narrowband technology offers improvements in capacity, security, audio quality and coverage.

But for volunteer organizations, like the Hampton Volunteer Fire Department, that use the older technology, the mandate can be costly.

Mead said the cost to convert all of the department’s pagers, personal radios, and truck radios is $2,800.

The department is also required to replace its bunker gear every five years even though the amount it’s used is far less in a smaller department like Hampton than it is in a larger department like Queensbury.

“Our money is getting eaten up by state mandates,” Mead said.

Those mandates are compounded by the fact that one of the department’s trucks, which is nearly 40 years old, needs to be replaced. Mead said a 12-year-old truck will cost $80,000.

The department has applied for grants to cover some of its expenses, but have been turned down. Members have tried fundraising, with some success, but those efforts take up time, which is in short supply for a department that has experienced a 100 percent increase in calls since the same time last year.

“We’re getting to the point where we’re taxing our volunteers beyond their means. They have to train, respond to emergencies and raise nearly half of our money. And it’s been a busy year. We responded to 27 calls this year already. We responded to 27 all of last year.”

Unfortunately the financial woes are all too common, Supervisor Dave O’Brien said. “It’s getting to the point where communities can’t afford fire service.”

One of Salem’s fire departments disbanded and the Skenesborough Volunteer Fire Co. dissolved earlier this year due to financial constraints.

O’Brien, a former volunteer firefighter, pledged the board would do what it could but cautioned the town is restricted by a lack of industry and the tax revenue it generates. They are also bound by the 2 percent tax cap. He said every $2,000 in expenditures represents a 1 percent raise in taxes.

Mead said if the proposal isn’t approved it could result in reduced service, and if the department is unable to remain solvent, everyone’s insurance rates would increase because their homes would be further from the nearest fire department.

“It’s getting harder every day,” he said.

Comments

comments

Read more in this week's Sentinel in newsstands now or click here to read right now with our e-edition.

Read more in this week's Times in newsstands now or click here to read right now with our e-edition.

Tags: ,

Amanda Peet plays housewife turned murderer

DIRTY JOHN -- "No Fault" Episode 201 -- Pictured: (l-r) -- (Photo by: Isabella Vosmikova/USA Network)

By Barb Oates One of the most important things about a divorce is learning to pick your battles. For Betty […]

Ask Matt: Why is ‘celebrity’ so overused in show titles?

TVG_Ask_Matt

By Matt Roush Question: It’s tiring to see the use of “star” and “celebrity” in show titles. I clicked on […]

Obituary: Amy R. Phipps

Amy Phipps obit photo

Amy R. Phipps 73, passed away at St. John’s Hospital in Springfield Illinois on Tuesday April 28, 2020. Amy was […]

Obituary: James Eli McKeighan

James Eli McKeighan obit photo

Rupert-James Eli McKeighan, 89, of Rupert, passed away Thursday, May 21, 2020 at the Southwestern Vermont Medical Center in Bennington. […]

Rick’s Picks: Country at Heart

Rick's Picks

By Rick Gables Country at Heart, starring Jessy Schram, Niall Matter and Lucas Bryant, is a new, original movie premiering […]

ReMIND, ReWIND – Lost in TV space

UNDATED, FILE PHOTO:  (FILE PHOTO)  Actors Bill Mumy (L) and Jonathan Harris (R) are seen in a television still in 1966. The 87 year-old Harris, who portrayed Dr. Zachary Smith in the television sci-fi show "Lost In Space", died November 3, 2002 of a blood clot in his heart. He was reportedly receiving therapy for a chronic back problem in a Los Angeles hospital when he died.  (Photo by Getty Images)

A flashback to our favorite sci-fi series of the ’60s By Robert Edelstein, ReMIND Magazine In 1966, the U.S. was […]

Town denies graduation in park

Town board masks

By PJ Ferguson   The town of Whitehall will not permit use of Skenesborough Park for any graduation ceremonies for […]

Hartford to keep programs, staff with $13.4M budget

hartford logo

By Matthew Saari The Hartford Central School District is proposing a $13.4 million budget for the 2020-2021 school year, which […]

Obituary: Thomas A. Chaplin

Thomas Chaplin obit photo

Whitehall- Thomas A. Chaplin, 82, formerly of Saunders St, passed away Saturday, May 23, 2020, at the Slate Valley Center […]

Parade salutes injured fireman

brooks parade2

By PJ Ferguson   Whitehall is a community that always rises to the occasion when it comes to coming together […]

Obituary: Katherine “Kitty” Matte

Matte Katherine obit photo

Katherine “Kitty” Matte, 93, of Whitehall, New York, passed away peacefully in her home, surrounded by her loving family, on […]

Obituary: Lorraine Rose Prevost

Prevost obit photo

Granville, NY – Lorraine Rose Prevost passed away at her home early Wednesday, May 20, 2020.  She was surrounded by […]