Possible TLVFD takeover in works

TUPPER LAKE - Village of Tupper Lake trustees say the town of Tupper Lake can take over the volunteer fire department, so long as the law allows it.

Several members of Tupper Lake's Town Council attended a village budget work session last week, and town supervisor Roger Amell noted at least two-thirds of the money needed for fire service comes from the town.

"It would make sense to let the town run the department," Amell said. "Given that most of the money comes from town taxpayers."

Village Mayor Mickey Desmarais welcomed the idea, saying it would be one less thing for trustees to worry about.

"We have a lot to work on as it is," Desmarais said. "I don't want to speak on behalf of the board, but I'm okay with it."

State law prohibits a town from taking over a fire department unless a fire district is created. A district, however, requires an entirely different board of elected commissioners, and would also provide a separate, itemized bill for services.

Town councilwoman Kathy Lefebvre said New York State Sen. Elizabeth O'C Little, R-Queensbury, has proposed a bill allowing towns to control fire departments without the need for a fire district. That bill, however, has little chance of passing because fire departments in New York don't want give up control of their departments.

"Little is working to pass a special bill that would allow just the town of Tupper Lake to take over the department without a district," Lefebvre said. "I'll have to check with her on how that's coming along."

Village trustee Leon Leblanc also commended the idea, despite having recently completed the fire department's budget.

"I think this is a fine idea," he said. "Even though I just put in all that hard work on this year's budget."

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