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Town continues to stall on fire contract; village shuts out public

Officials from the town of Tupper Lake cancelled a meeting with the village on Monday, further delaying efforts to hammer out a contract that would provide the town with village fire department services.

The village needs to know if the town is onboard soon, because it has less than two weeks to approve its budget for the year.

If the village doesn't have a contract from the town by then, it will have to absorb the total cost of the fire department. This would add an extra $130,000 to the village tax levy, an 8.8 percent increase from last year.

With the town's contribution, the tax levy is projected to increase by less than 2 percent.

The town's contract for fire services doesn't run out until the end of the calendar year, but since the village votes on it's budget by the end of the month, the town's contract would need to be renegotiated before then.

Town Supervisor Roger Amell said the board decided not to meet with village officials after recent news stories quoted village Mayor Mickey Desmarais referring to the town's delay in signing the contract as "stupid" and "bipolar."

Amell said town and village lawyers would discuss it instead, a move that effectively removes the debate from the public eye.

During a village board meeting Monday evening, Mayor Mickey Desmarais expressed dismay at the town's decision not to meet with them that evening.

Later during that same meeting, board members called an executive session to discuss what they claimed would be "collective bargaining issues and personnel."

While waiting in the hallway, reporters from WNBZ and the Adirondack Daily Enterprise - and at least one member of the public - heard fragments of speech from a loud voice inside the meeting, including the words "fire department contract" and "flat fee."

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