OAKFIELD – The Village of Oakfield has taken legal action against the Town of Oakfield for the town’s refusal to pay for fire protection services, according to a letter from Mayor David Boyle and the board posted on the village website.
Village officials have said the Oakfield Village Fire Department, as of November 30, will no longer provide fire protection to the town, with the exception of the Oakfield-Alabama Central School. .
The letter reads as follows:
Both village and town are required by law to provide their respective constituents with fire protection. For many years, the Village Fire Department provided residents of the Town of Oakfield with fire protection through a series of contracts for this service. Fire protection is expensive, highly regulated and continues to increase in terms of the need to provide funds for sustainable operations. It is a reality and despite honest efforts to save, it is a constant challenge. The maintenance of a fire department involves the constant purchase of equipment, hoses, fire trucks and other related equipment. Residents of the village pay roughly double their tax rate compared to the town’s tax rate for fire protection. For residents of the village, this is $ 1.62 per thousand of total value, which is included in the total village tax rate of $ 6.02. (That’s more than a quarter of the general village fund budget.)
Since June 2020, the Village has continued to provide the City with good faith fire protection, despite the fact that the City refused to sign a fire contract for such services. To date, the City has not reimbursed the Village for this service and continues to refuse to pay for the fire protection services rendered. This is despite the fact that the City collects the tax from the residents of the City to pay the bill and continues to accept the service provided. According to the New York State Comptroller, this is illegal and inappropriate. While the Village participated in the discussions to resolve the impasse, the City refused to accept the conditions. This means that for more than 15 months the Village has provided fire protection to the City without being reimbursed for the cost of the services rendered and has not signed a fire protection contract for the whole of last year and the three months starting this year. year.
In light of the Town’s refusal to pay for the services rendered, the Village has initiated legal proceedings to recover the money owed by the Town last year. The village council is united in recognizing that the village cannot compel the residents and businesses of the village to provide fire protection to the town without reimbursement. Therefore, the council ordered that a letter be sent to the city stating that as of November 30, 2021, the village will no longer be able to provide fire protection to the city, except for the Oakfield-Alabama Central School. This notice gives the City approximately double the time to make fire protection arrangements than the 30-day notice provision contained in contracts with the City.
The village board recognizes that those who live and do business outside the village are our friends, families and businesses that are close to us as a “community”. Unfortunately, providing such an important service without compensation or cooperation must stop. Legally, the Village is not in a position to assume the entire burden of providing a service to an outside entity or to a municipality. For the 2020-2021 fiscal year and the last three additional months, the City knew what to budget, collected tax revenue for this expense and continued to avail itself of the fire protection provided by the Village, but did not carry out any payment or signed succession agreements.
In closing, the village board would like to point out that our village fire department responded to all city calls and the service provided exemplary flawless service while the village kept costs under control. as possible. The service must be provided on a sustainable financial basis. To this end, we remain hopeful that the City will pay the amounts already due and agree to contract again with the Village for fire protection. However, if the City refuses to make arrangements for fire protection in the City, the Village can no longer provide the service free of charge and must take the difficult steps to terminate fire protection coverage for the City.
Trustees Michael Cianfrini, Michele Graham, John Mullen