Trustees adopt budget, restore paid fire driver

The Saranac Lake Village Board of Trustees unanimously adopted the 2011-2012 budget during Monday night's regular meeting, restoring a paid fire driver in the process.

This year's budget now carries a 2 percent increase to the tax levy. The tax rate in the town of Harrietstown will decrease by about 7 percent, while the tax rate in the towns of St. Armand and North Elba will jump by about 7 percent, according to village Treasurer Paul Ellis.

Following a series of work sessions, trustees seemed poised to cut four positions in order to zero-out any increase to the tax levy.

The positions included a part-time clerk at the police department, a laborer at the village Department of Public Works, a deputy treasurer, and one paid fire driver.

But after listening to concerns from officials at the Saranac Lake Volunteer Fire Department, trustees opted to restore funding for the fifth paid fire driver.

During the public comment portion of last night's meeting, Chris Tissot told trustees that keeping a full staff at the fire department is essential to public safety.

Early Friday morning, his business, Tissot Construction, caught fire and was most likely saved by the fire department's rapid response.

"I understand that both full-time drivers as well as the chief were able to have water flowing on the fire within five to 10 minutes, which was substantially before other actions were taken at the scene," Tissot said. "I've been informed, and I fully believe, that without all three of them arriving as quickly as they did, they whole structure would have been lost. It's really pretty amazing that they were able to save it."

Rick Knapton, who lives across from Tissot Construction and reported Friday's fire, also spoke in support of the fire department.

"The speed in which they got there was amazing," he said. "I'd like to see that ability to continue. We all pay home insurance and all this; we don't use it for 20 years, which is fine. But when you need it, it makes a big difference."

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