The members of the Adams Planning Board continue to be fully supportive of the Adams Fire Department.
This all-volunteer organization over the years has continually demonstrated its commitment and dedication to protecting the residents of the village and the fire protection district. The Fire Department should always have the equipment and resources that are needed to accomplish this vital task.
However, we are opposed to the $1.2 million expansion of the Fire Department building at this time. The village of Adams has a number of fiscal priorities that should be addressed first before more debt is added onto the village taxpayers.
Additionally, the cost of supporting the fire company should be equitably distributed over the residences and businesses that are under its protection. This is not the case now, nor has it been for many years.
Within the Adams fire protection district and outside the village, there are 462 taxable parcels that have an assessed total value of $61,948,668. Each of these parcels is taxed for the fire protection services of the Adams Fire Department.
The tax rate for this service is 52 cents per $1,000 of assessed value. This year, $32,000 will be raised by this tax and it is included in the 2013-14 Fire Departments budget. An additional $3,500 is collected from the towns of Ellisburg and Lorraine.
In the village of Adams, there are 667 taxable parcels, having an assessed taxable value of $75,292,309. The 2013-14 budget for the Adams Fire Department is estimated to be $137,670.
Subtracting the contributions from the town, village taxpayers would be responsible for the balance of $101,170. This would put the fire tax rate in the village at $1.34 per $,1000, 2.5 times the rate in the fire protection district.
Now that the $1.2 million Admas Fire Department expansion has been approved, and a 10-year bond will be obtained, it will add an additional $120,000 to the villages yearly taxload and increase the fire tax rate to $2.94 per $1,000. This would increase the Fire Department tax burden on the village residents to a factor of more than 5.5 times that paid by people living in the fire protection district.
This year, a house assessed at $150,000 outside of the village, being protected by the Adams Fire Department, would pay $78 for the service. The same property, within the village, would pay $441 for the same service.
We cannot continue to unfairly tax the residents of the village for fire protection. It is a vital service that is shared by all of the residences and businesses in both the village of Adams and in the fire protection district. It is a service like water or sewers, and its cost should be equally shared by all of the taxable properties and people that it protects. We must find a better and more equitable way of raising the tax dollars needed to adequately support the Adams Fire Department.
The Adams Planning Board had recommended that the $1.2 million construction project for the Adams Fire Department be placed on hold. The village of Adams should decrease its current debt, solve the water supply problem and ease the inequitable tax burden being placed on the village residents.
William J. Doe
The writer is chairman of the Adams Planning Board.