Chilson to debate fire department's future

CHILSON - Concerned with increased taxes, some residents are calling for an end to the Chilson Volunteer Fire Department.

"With the arrival of the 2009 Ticonderoga town tax bills many have expressed surprise and dismay at the unprecedented 70 percent increase leveled for the Chilson fire department," Margaret Scuderi wrote to the Times of Ti.

Scuderi has called a meeting to discuss the tax hike and the fire department's future on Friday, Feb. 20, at 7 p.m. at the Chilson Community Building.

Tax rates in the 2009 town budget are $9.89 per $1,000 of assessed value in the Ticonderoga fire district and $10.40 in the Chilson fire district.

The higher tax rate in Chilson can be attributed to a $16,900 increase in the Chilson fire district budget.

Fire district budgets are set by the local board of fire commissioners and submitted to the town board for inclusion in the town budget. Town trustees have no say on fire district spending.

Fred Hunsdon, Chilson fire chief, said the fire district increase is needed to meet state mandates requiring certification of equipment.

While the department needs no new equipment, it must pay an independent firm to certify all its equipment is safe and in working order, Hunsdon explained.

Hunsdon said he has not been invited to the Feb. 20 meeting, but plans to attend and explain the tax increase.

The department received a big boost a year ago, Hunsdon said, when it got a $163,000 Federal Emergency Management Administration grant.

"We saved the fire district a lot of money by getting that grant," he said.

The money was used to purchase equipment to outfit 10 firefighters, Scott air packs, a heat imaging camera, a chemical gas detector, jaws of life extraction equipment and a ventilation system to clear smoke of carbon monoxide from buildings.

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