More than 70 members of the various Saugerties fire companies and Diaz Ambulance Service came to the Frank Greco Senior Center October 18 in support of a town-board resolution that will charge housing developers additional fees to help cover firefighting and ambulance service costs.
Michael Sasso, fire chief with the Glasco Fire Company, said the resolution would help bring money into the companies for equipment and insurance. Many of the companies have their own fire districts, which allow them to tax property owners in those fire districts and use the money to cover company operations.
The resolution will require developers who seek major subdivision approval to pay a fee of $800 per building lot. The money will be split evenly between Diaz and the fire company in whose district the development is built.
“Developments are going in faster, and providing fire coverage for these new developments with our current amount of equipment is not sustainable,” Sasso said. “We don’t want to put the burden of adding equipment to cover these new developments on the taxpayer.”
Phillip Cobb of the Centerville fire company and fire commissioner with that district said it might have cost a fire company $100 to pay for full turnout gear to protect a firefighter in years past. Now that cost is about $2000.
Councilman James Bruno said the town board has been working on this resolution for some time, “and it’s a worthwhile measure.”
“We are fortunate to have fire companies who put us first,” said councilwoman Leeanne Thornton. “You are our heroes.”
“These firefighters provide a valuable service to our community,” added Fred Costello, “and we should do everything we can to help them out.”