Tuesday, October 20, 2015

FFD Response to Poughkeepsie Journal Article re: Town Supervisor


Christopher Maeder, Chief
Fairview Fire District
258 Violet Avenue
Poughkeepsie, NY 12601

October 20, 2015
It is election season once again and as per the norm, those seeking to be reelected are spouting off about fire taxes without actually revealing the facts.  It would appear that talking points are more important than acknowledging the real issues of the Fairview Fire District (FFD).  

 In today’s Poughkeepsie Journal, Town of Poughkeepsie Supervisor was asked about the fire taxes in his town.  His response was that fire taxes were “unsustainable” and that the fire districts lacked “oversight.”   What he fails to mention is the real issue here at the FFD.  

For decades, the FFD has been open about the issue of properties in the fire district that do not pay fire taxes in spite of receiving these valuable services.   According to the Pace Study, 52% of the districts assessed value is off the tax rolls.  In addition to Marist College, Dutchess Community College, Mid-Hudson Regional Hospital, there are properties that are critical pieces of infrastructure owned by the Town of Poughkeepsie.  Town of Poughkeepsie owned (and non taxpaying) properties in the Fairview Fire District value in excess of $37 million.  Over the years, the FFD has asked for assistance in addressing this issue with little help from the same elected officials who vilify the fire districts.  

Unlike towns and other municipalities, fire districts are only able to generate revenue through taxes on property.   We are unable to levy fines, fees, or use other tools that the town is able to.  

In response to Mr. Tancredi’s comment of lack of “oversight,” it is important to note that the FFD has made every effort to maintain as conservative of a budget as possible while at the same time seeing our costs and call volume increase.   In the year 2008, the levy (amount billed to tax payers) was $3,005,700.  In 2015, the levy was $3,375,750.  This represents a 12.3% increase over 7 years or a 1.75% increase annually.   One has to question if the Town of Poughkeepsie can report the same limited growth in their levy during the same time period.  

The FFD understands the strain on the taxpayer, but at the same time recognizes the need for our valuable services.  Call volume continues to increase with the call volume expected to exceed 2000 alarms this year in a response area of 4.5 square miles.  We will be expected to continue to provide an excellent level of service to a number of properties that are currently in the planning stages or already being built.   

The FFD also takes exception to Mr. Engelhardt’s foolish comment of “misappropriated” funds.  The FFD takes multiple measures to make sure that all funds are used appropriately and consistent with best practices.  Additionally, the FFD is audited as required by law each year and these audit reports are located on the FFD website (www.fairviewfd.net).   It is just another false election year claim by someone seeking office and has never reached out to the FFD leadership for answers to questions.  

It is growing tiresome that every election cycle the FFD’s leadership has to waste our time and energy correcting the misinformation by individuals who seek office.  Any and all who are interested in the facts or learning more about the FFD are encouraged to call or email Chief Christopher Maeder.  His office line is (845) 452-7453 and his email is cmaeder@fairviewfd.net.