May 27, 2004

Journal on fire company finances, superintendents

Today's Ithaca Journal catches up on the long-running story of audits of fire companies in the Dryden Fire Protection District. They report that the Etna audit, the last to be done, is in progress, while the Varna, Neptune, and W. B. Strong audits are complete. (I posted the audit report (2.6MB PDF) for the companies completed so far in March.)

The Journal reports on various post-audit changes at the departments, including formalizing procedures and a lease at Neptune, changes in the Varna investments and their hiring of an accountant, and Freeville's hiring an accountant to file tax returns, something they hadn't done previously. (As a non-profit, they don't owe taxes, but they are obligated to file.)

The main objection to the audit in the article (from Councilman Steve Stelick, Neptune President Dan Tier, and Neptune Chief Ron Flynn) seems to be cost, which feels strange after the years of conflict and last year's 31.8% fire tax levy increase, relatively little of which was audit-related. I certainly don't object to spending money on fire protection, and thought Varna's spending this year reasonable, but this is worth questioning. Audits are certainly an inconvenience for all involved, but they let people see where their tax dollars go, and provide a foundation for figuring out where to put the next round of tax dollars.

Hopefully the new Town Board and the companies, free of the rancor of past years, can use the full picture provided by the audit information to make plans for the fire protection district that keep both the companies and the taxpayers happy.

The Journal's editorial today looks back over the careers of Dryden Superintendent Pat Archambault and Trumansburg Superintendent John Delaney, both of whom are retiring this summer. The story of Archambault's working her way up through education is impressive. Delaney has a quote worth consideration beyond the Trumansburg School District:

"I can tell you that using property tax to fund public agencies has got to be revamped," he said. "I think that land as a measure of wealth isn't the indicator that it was 50 years ago. Today, you can own a lot of land and not have much income -- or you can have a very high income without owning much property."

There's also a letter from Natasha Suter of Dryden, urging people to follow the news and providing "Web sites that contain news stories either poorly covered by the mainstream media or not covered at all." Republicans, of course, may not like her choices of sites.

Posted by simon at May 27, 2004 8:08 AM in ,
Note on photos