Village approves fire department spending policy
PENN YAN—During the meeting of the Penn Yan Village board Tuesday, Sept. 21, trustee Michael Christensen presented the final report and recommendations on the Penn Yan Fire department budget and expenditures. The board approved the report from the ad hoc committee reviewing the matter. Following the meeting, Fire Chief Rick Retorick said he was surprised the policy was approved at this meeting. He said he thought the fire chiefs would have an opportunity to review any changes made since it was presented at the committee meeting Thursday, Sept. 16 before it was adopted by the board.
The village budgeted $42,500 for the fire department this year. Funds have been budgeted for the department since the 1960s. After an audit of fire department expenses for 2005 through 2007 was made public, the decision was made to review expenditures. In April, Mayor Bob Church named an ad hoc committee to review expenditures and fund appropriations. Christensen is chair of the village public safety committee and served as chair of that committee. It was determined expenditures would be more appropriately debited from the village budget in a process consistent with current expenditure and accounting processes. The village clerk/treasurer would pay directly costs as appropriated in the budget. The fire department has three sources of revenue: the village budget, the “Two percent” funds, connected with insurance companies and fundraising events.
Four meetings were held and a policy for expenditure of village funds by the fire department was written. Purchases greater than $100, travel, chief vehicle and miscellaneous items are all contained in the document.
In the miscellaneous section, the list includes:
• Village funds may not pay for alcohol, gifts or bands for parades.
• The fire department may not have a village credit card in its name. Individual fire companies may have a credit card in their own name.
• Only one annual dinner may be held with village funds.
• Fire department and fire companies will submit a summary of their expected fund raising for the following year on or about Dec. 1 each year for approval by the board. Additional events that arise throughout the year may be submitted for board approval.
• Each company will submit an annual internal audit report of their finances on or about July 31 of each year.
• Finally, should at any time the chiefs or the general membership of the Penn Yan Fire Department or village board determine that an alternate method of accounting and expenditure of village funds is applicable, meeting the standards as set forth in the applicable rules and regulations of state and federal law, the matter will be reviewed by the Public Safety Committee.
In other business: Secretary of the Fire Department Incorporation Committee, Tom McCormick, presented a draft copy of the certificate of incorporation to the board. The formal request will be submitted to the village Oct. 19 and a public hearing was scheduled at 6 p.m. Nov. 18. The fire department is proposing creation of a not for profit corporation.
• Draft recommendations to amend the zoning chapter on Waterfront Development and Conservation District were discussed. Village Attorney Ed Brockman said a vote could wait until October. Mike Christensen said, “I want to see some consideration for our residents that are supporting the infrastructure, police and fire service. We can’t sit back and encourage economic growth when all we see are PILOT (Payment in Lieu of Taxes) programs and non-profits.” He said he wants to make sure the village doesn’t play their cards too soon. Code Enforcement Officer Bruce Lyon said the draft can be developed now. The new portions could give more direction on how it can go. Municipal Utilities Board chairman Rom French said, “We want to make sure everything is in its proper place. We were concerned about where a developer stands. All the questions we had are pretty well answered.” The board will review part two of the State Environmental Quality Review Act and schedule a public hearing, possibly in November. Church reported the Community Revitalization Program has two projects completed. He expects more applications for the half grant and half low-interest loans soon.
• Trustee Richard Stewart told the board the CSEA contract had been approved in March and the paperwork is not at the village. He asked for a resolution approving the contract. Brockman said he wants to make sure that no changes were made after the village approved the document. Church asked the Personnel Committee to review it before it is approved.
• Stewart said he would like to get the employee handbook approved in October. He said the committee had been working it for multiple years.
• Church asked the board if they would consider making membership on the village Historic Preservation Commission open to individuals who live outside the village. He asked the board to consider his proposal and discuss the matter at the October village board meeting.
• The board agreed to table consideration of proposed amendments to the Ethics chapter of village code. Brockman reminded the group the matter must be considered in October.
• A motion was presented to hire Patrick McKnight to fill a vacancy in the police department. He is now working for the department part-time. There was extensive discussion about filling the vacancy. The position is currently funded in this year’s budget. The work is now being covered by part-time officers. Police chief Mark Hulse said the department is currently using Federal money for the part-time officers. Church said, “This is a really rough situation. This is funded in the budget. We increased our part-time budget. Overtime and part-time last year was between $45,000 and $50,000, now it’s $57,000.” Church said his biggest concern is that there is no sustainable form to increase revenue. Next year they may have to look at cuts. He asked Hulse to look at part-time and overtime and try to find a way to trim back. He said, “I’m just looking at it from a financial standpoint.” McKnight attended the meeting and Church emphasized that the discussion about the position had nothing to do with him. After comments were completed, the board voted to appoint McKnight a full-time village police officer, effective Sept. 27.
• Trustees authorized the public works department to obtain quotes regarding survey work in the area of Old Route 14A and Himrod Road and East Main Street. The purpose is to determine where the village line is and to improve the intersection.
The next meeting of the Penn Yan village board will be at 7 p.m. Oct. 19 in the village office building on Elm Street.