Each year, on the second Tuesday in December, one of five positions on the Garrison Fire District Board of Commissioners is to be filled by the voters in a public election. This year it will be Dec. 12. The polls at the Garrison Firehouse at 1616 Route 9 are open from 6 to 9 p.m.
I urge district residents to show up, and I ask you to vote for me — for the simple reason that the commission needs to be more open to the public.
In 2016, the district’s first board, whose members were appointed approved a 27 percent increase in the budget for the Garrison Volunteer Fire Company. This past fall, the first elected board approved a $770,000 budget for 2018, despite an $80,000 surplus in 2017.
Of even greater importance is the fact that between 2018 and 2020, final payments on two leases and a mortgage totaling $210,852 will be made (expenses that will not recur). An open and informed discussion needs to be undertaken about what will happen with this budget opportunity.
However, one expense that will recur between 2018 and 2020 is the $25,000 in annual rent that Garrison taxpayers pay to the Garrison Fire Co. Say what? That is correct. Garrison taxpayers, who pay the mortgage, maintenance and utilities on the firehouse, also pay $25,000 per year to the fire company for the Fire District’s use of the building.
The board has been unwilling to obtain from the fire company any information as to what it intends to do with the $50,000 in rent payments received to date and the $75,000 still due to the non-profit company under the agreement.
I urge you to vote for me on Dec. 12 so that the Garrison taxpayers and community have a voice in how your money is going to be spent and see that it is accounted for.
Joe Regele, Garrison
As a very concerned resident I urge you to vote for Joe Regele for Garrison Fire District commissioner.
Last December, after the appointed fire commissioners approved a 2017 budget increase of 27 percent, the community turned out in unprecedented force seeking fiscal responsibility and transparency.
Unfortunately, little has changed. Despite administrative corrections and the final payment of a mortgage, resulting in 10 percent savings this year and every year going forward, there have been no savings for the taxpayer. This is effectively a 10 percent increase in the budget for 2018.
Perhaps more important is the lack of transparency. There is an extreme reluctance on the part of the fire company board and the majority of the commissioners to obtain the information required by the commissioners to do their job and ensure fire protection for the community that is safe and effective for both the firefighters and those they serve.
Joe Regele has been asking questions for years that have largely gone unanswered. His election will switch the voting balance on the board and enable transparency and efficiency to be achieved at last.
Stan Freilich, Garrison
Freilich is a Garrison Fire District commissioner.
HOW WE REPORT
The Current is a member of The Trust Project, a consortium of news outlets that has adopted standards to allow readers to more easily assess the credibility of their journalism. Our best practices, including our verification and correction policies, can be accessed here. Have a comment? A news tip? Spot an error? Email [email protected].