Saratoga County

Malta Town Board backs funding hike for fire companies

The Malta Town Board has decided to increase the funding for the Malta Ridge and Round Lake voluntee

The Malta Town Board has decided to increase the funding for the Malta Ridge and Round Lake volunteer fire companies in the proposed 2016 budget, after firefighters complained that they were shortchanged in town Supervisor Paul Sausville’s tentative 2016 budget.

The board, at a workshop last Thursday, agreed to keep the fire district tax at 83 cents per $1,000 assessed value, the same rate as this year. Sausville had proposed a $17,000 increase in the town fire budget, but because the town tax base has grown, that would have resulted in an 81.5-cent tax rate. The restored rate will mean about $14,000 more in revenue for each fire company. Each receives about $870,000 annually from the town.

At the Oct. 8 Town Board meeting, about four dozen firefighters turned out to urge the board to adopt the higher tax rate, saying the demands on their time and talents have increased as the town’s population has grown and there is more commercial activity. The departments, which have historically operated from the northern and southern ends of town, last year opened a shared central fire station in the downtown. In addition to fires and local accidents, the departments respond to what are sometimes major incidents on the Northway.

“With all that’s going on in town, you can’t go backwards,” Round Lake Fire Chief Frank Mazza said. “ We’re getting more calls, worse calls, longer calls.”

Last week, Sausville, who is on vacation, said he came up with the fire budget by applying the current inflation rate — less than 1 percent — to the budget. Sausville is retiring at the end of the year, and both candidates to succeed him — Democrat Cynthia Young and Republican Vincent DeLucia — said they supported more funding for the fire companies.

The board also voted to give the Malta-Stillwater ambulance service $469,000, the same as it received this year.

Sausville had proposed cutting it by $80,000, saying he believed this year’s boost in ambulance funding was intended to be a one-time boost, not permanent. Ambulance supporters had argued for the higher figure, citing increasing demand for its services.

The tentative 2016 budget totals $9.6 million, down by about $100,000 from the current town budget.

For the 32nd consecutive year, there will be no townwide general tax other than 0.2 cent tax for a volunteer emergency services awards programs, 0.13 cents per $1,000 for library services, and the fire tax.

A public hearing on the tentative budget will take place at the Nov. 2 Town Board meeting, after which the spending plan could be adopted.

Categories: News, Schenectady County

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