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Carthage-Wilna Fire District board convenes

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CARTHAGE — The board of commissioners of the Carthage-Wilna Fire District has proposed a $598,049 budget for 2014 that reflects a 3.1 percent increase over last year’s $580,039.

The district will need $541,000 raised through taxes, resulting in a tax rate of $2.25 per $1,000 of assessed property value for residents in the fire district. Last year, the tax levy was $527,670, with a tax rate of $2.44 per $1,000.

The district saw a 1.5 percent growth in its tax base.

The commissioners set a budget hearing for 4:30 p.m. Oct. 15 at the fire station, 685 S. James St.

“Everything goes up — retirement, health insurance — and we are looking at repairs for the truck,” board Chairman Jon W. Storms said at the most recent meeting. He noted the budget funds for employee benefits were down because of a reduction in full-time employees. The department now has only two full-time drivers, supplemented by several part-timers who fill in on weekends.

The equipment line item was increased by 19.62 percent in part to outfitting new members with turnout gear.

“Also, we have two big repairs that have to be done next year that have to be capitalized under equipment,” Treasurer Linda R. Prashaw said.“The ladder truck needs new radiator, over $8,000, and the older KME needs a new door, over $1,000.”

After taking delivery of a new engine from KME, Nesquehoning, Pa., the district sold a 1988 FMC to the Yuba Fire Department in Hendrix, Okla., for about $9,850. The district will have to pay a 10 percent fee to Firetec, the company that facilitated the sale.

Chief Sean P. McHale reported during the Sept. 25 meeting that a water rescue policy has been enacted with the West Carthage Fire Department. It establishes that “when a call is activated for a water rescue, both departments will be called out with staging set up on both sides of the river. Command will be established with the department that is first on the scene.”

The Carthage Fire Department is seeking to establish a firematics drill team, with Cole Pacella heading the endeavor. As it is recognized as a training resource, the department will cover any insurance costs beyond what the district pays.

Mr. Storms said he felt the audit by the state comptroller’s office was “terrific.” He said Ms. Prashaw “does an excellent job ... to see that approval is unheard of.”

However, the auditors found fault with the payment of several bills before approval by the board of commissioners, including those for equipment rental, training, physical examinations, trash removal, health insurance and a credit card.

It was determined this finding was through a misinterpretation of minutes from the organizational meeting, and only the health insurance and credit card bills actually were paid before approval.

The district treasurer arranged with the credit card company to change the payment due date to coincide with board meetings. Since health insurance is an annual contract, paid monthly, the board decided to continue to pay that bill before the monthly meeting, because any change could result in cancellation or reassignment with higher premiums.

In other business, the board approved new members Matt Draper and Tyler Wilson joining the department’s probationary process and approved the purchase of reconditioned spreaders from Jerome Fire Equipment Co., Clay, for a total cost of up to $4,500.

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