This appeared in the Buffalo News Blogs section : Personaly I whole heartedly disagree I am adding a page link in hopes of those reading this might post their opinions : This isn't the first time they have tried to slam the fire services.
Some fire companies sit on piles of cashThe men and women who put themselves in danger to fight fires, who climb into burning buildings to rescue the inhabitants, are heroes who deserve deep gratitude.(SMOKE)
That having been said, it doesn't mean that volunteer fire companies shouldn't face scrutiny of their budgets and spending.(FIRE!)
In Erie County, many volunteer fire companies build up substantial reserves with taxpayer money. Essentially, they bill taxpayers in advance for the replacement of vehicles and buildings, years down the road.
That's cheaper than having to borrow the money, advocates say. But it rubs some people the wrong way. While town governments publicly discuss big expenditures before they happen, fire companies can make their decisions without public input.
Should taxpayers have a better window on fire companies' spending?
-- Fred O. Williams(End quote)
Click on the "Blogs" section page link - it is in the upper right hand corner of their front page - click on "Inside the News" - scroll down to article!
Click on the link below:http://buffalonews.com/inside_the_ne...ire-compa.html
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11-12-2008, 08:26 PM #1
Are "Volunteers Milking tax payers" ? ! ?
Last edited by bfdhoser1; 11-12-2008 at 08:33 PM.
11-12-2008, 08:32 PM #2
- Join Date
- Aug 2007
- Southern Indiana
It would be interesting to know what 'big reserves' are. It a department that has $50k considered 'big reserves'. Is it 100k etc.
The next question is what useful input would taxpayers have in the selection of a new engine or truck?
I see it more as a move to grab funds and/or funding for something else.
11-12-2008, 08:52 PM #3
If you don't believe there are volunteer fire departments in this country that do have large reserves of tax payer monies...you need to get out more.
Do all? No.
Do most? No.
Do some? Absolutely."This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?
11-12-2008, 11:06 PM #4
Should all or most be tightly scrutinized for the actions of few?To err is human, To forgive divine and at times I am as much of both as you will ever find
11-13-2008, 09:11 AM #5
- Join Date
- Jan 2008
In NY, local governments are allowed to put reserves aside to plan for future purchases. There is a vote at some point in the process by the public. I don't recall if it is to set up the reserve or to expend the monies or both. This only applies to fire districts in the state of NY. In our county, there are 17 departments, 2 are paid, 2 are districts, the remainder are private entities that contract to the towns for fire protection.
In the case of the fire districts, we create a budget, it gets submitted to the town board who either approves or disapproves, and then taxes are levied. Here is the great part. Of the $1,000 I pay in taxes, about $50 is for fire protection.
P.S. the link doesn't work
11-13-2008, 12:10 PM #6
- Join Date
- Aug 2001
- Clarksburg, IN
We are a private entity that has memberships. These are the citizens in our district. Through an annual meeting they are allowed to ask about our expenditures and we report on our activities for the year. As far as the contracts we have with the townships, that money is no where near enough to buy any big ticket items. That is worked out directly with the trustees. We reach an agreement then use the money as agreed. Another item to keep in mind, or at least we do, is that the volunteers are usually living in the area they cover and we get no pay or compensation and we PAY taxes just like everyone else. We don't want them increased any more that any one else. I do believe there are those that work at accumulating money for big ticket items, but based on most tax bases across the country how else do you pay for a $200,000 truck?
11-13-2008, 01:14 PM #7
Personally I don't see a problem with banking money for an upcoming big expense. It seems like the right way to do it financially since the company could collect interest on the sum for the years preceding the purchase, rather then paying interest to the bank after it.
The whole thing should be done transparently, though. Here any big-ticket item would have to get voted on by the tax payer to carry the bond. The same should be true even if we were trying to collect money up front.
With respect to the article it seems like their railing against the Fire Companies holding large reserves, but the argument they use seems rather week. If a company is trying to raise money for the purchase of a $500,000 engine over the course of 5 years, then by year 4 they're going to have a significant savings piled up. Is that necessarily bad? No.. but again it comes back to transparency and the tax payer's participation and visibility.So you call this your free country
Tell me why it costs so much to live
11-13-2008, 02:10 PM #8
Some members feel that we are being scrutinized. Some of us believe we are being honest.
If you have nothing to hide, there is nothing to fear."This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?
11-13-2008, 03:01 PM #9
175 views - few comments ? ! ?
Thanks for reading this - pass it on - The Buffalo News has repeatedly tried to label "Volunteer Firefighters" and Full time "Paid" Firemen/women as self absorbed tax eaters.
I think a handful of "Politicians" are pushing to gain control of those funds. These people(Elected ones) can't seem to manage their own out of control spending habits.
They never post the dollars saved by volunteers - just the costs. They see an account idle and want to grab it. Do volunteers actualy want "Elected Local Government Politicians" - steering how that money is spent?
The first thing they "Politicians will do is create a "Board of Managers" , fill it with "Patronage Appointees" , of course they will have to get "Small" paychecks. Maybe even some healthcare , how about classifing it as a "Civil Service Appointment" - then they could get into the pension fund to.! ? !
Another useless layer of "Government" supported by our tax dollars and a portion of the "Volunteers" budgets.
Heres the link again for those who missed it - Thanks for your assistance .
11-13-2008, 04:37 PM #10
- Join Date
- Mar 2008
- Southeast PA
What's wrong with investing?
In some cases, the fire company invests money and uses the gains to pay for large ticket items. If there were no "stockpile", the financial burden of large expenditures would be greater on the municipality. In PA, the municipal govenment is responsible for providing fire and ems services for thier citizens. That doesn's mean they have to have a municipal fire department, but they have to have an agreement with an organization to provide these services. If over the years, the orgainzation was able to live within thier budget and save some of the surplus, they would be wise to invest it so that they can be less of a burden down the road. Just seems logical to me. Last year was the first time, to my recollection, that our township actually increased thier contribution to our fire company, and it has to have been longer than 10 years since they have done that. In that time, I'm sure things have gotten more expensive, and we respond to more emergencies, but we are spending the "surplus" money to make it happen, not having the municipality raise taxes. Of course, if our investments don't keep making money, this could become a problem. But that's another conversation for those who post in the "Obama will fix it all" threads.
11-17-2008, 02:24 AM #11
- Join Date
- Oct 2001
- Schenectady, NY
In NYS the Fire District does not submit a budget to the town. It is a separate taxing entity, that has their budget voted on by the tax payers. It is a Fire Protection District that has there budget approved by the town council. They are a private not-for-profit organization that is paid to provide fire protection to an area.Stephen J Bourassa
Latham FD (NY)
member since 1969
challenge competitor since 1993
11-17-2008, 07:21 AM #12
We do this too but it isn't some BS. Apparatus replacement is planned out for the next 20 years along with the estimated cost of each of them for the next 20 years. Every year, the town deposits a fixed amount of money into the replacement fund which stays there until it is needed. When it is time for replacement, we still have to put on a show about why need it and justify spending that $500,000 at a town meeting or two. The board of selectman will then approve it and the money is spent.
This isn't wastefully sitting on tax dollars. We'd be spending it whether it was in an account already or not. This method just ensures that some idiots aren't going to use the money to put new potted plants on the median downtown or some other useless stuff rather than replacing the 30yr old truck.Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.
11-17-2008, 09:29 AM #13
- Join Date
- Jan 2008
The point here is that these 13 independent fire companies are not government entities. That means that don't have to do a low bid, they don't have to follow government procurement policy, they don't have to follow government ethics standards.
11-17-2008, 05:14 PM #14
Heres our problem, new town manager new ideas, town has no money to do anything extra. The Town manager & certain board members need some money that they dont have to renew the down town area. Guess who has some money save up. That's right the VFD. Never mind that we have been saving it for the last 10 years. Never mind that 1/2 of our buget comes from the towns fire tax (dept. is owned by the town) and the other 1/2 is paid by the county, (for the area that we protect out in the county) all of which is ear marked for the fire dept. So since we have been frugal with our buget, and not spent the whole amount every year, down to the very last pennie. Since we have save monies to purchase new equpment/add on to our building, the new town manager wants to steal our money for BS. When asked how he would pay for our new ladder/ or the new engine that we have be saving up for, he advised us that he would cross that bridge when he came to it. The Cheif reminded the manger that the town board gave its approval for the FD to puts its extra funds in a capital prodjects account to be used only for the FD. So for now we believe that our money is safe, but with the current economy in the sh*tter and they members of the town board slowly changing, we are a little on edge.
“Guys if you get hurt, we’ll help you. If you get sick we’ll treat you. If you want to bitch and moan, then all I can tell you is to flick the sand out of your slit, suck it up or get the hell out!”
- Capt. Marc Cox CFD
Nothing in life is so exhilarating as to be shot at without result.
11-17-2008, 06:41 PM #15
- Join Date
- Dec 2002
- Rural Iowa
In today's "environment" saving for 10 or 20 years for purchase of a new truck is a likely a loosing game.
For example: if you on Jan 1 2008 you had $100k saved over recent years to buy a new pumper. That rural pumper might have cost $180k on 1Jan, today would cost $190-200k just due to material increases. Jan 1 2009 will cost $15-20k more due to NFPA 1901-2009. Jan 1, 2010 new envirowacko EPA requirements will eliminate several popular engines and likely increase cost an additional $10-20k. And likely will have at least one price increase in 2009. In the mean time you continue running whatever you have now.
So how is that interest you're recieving on the $ down at the bank (3%) going to help you out? Likely smart thing to do is to spend the $ you have on hand and lease purchase the balance. Get the new truck you need (if you need on) on order before Dec 30.
11-18-2008, 06:20 AM #16
- Join Date
- Aug 2007
- Southern Indiana
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