The Carmel Town Board expressed openness last week to potentially increasing the town’s contribution to the Mahopac Volunteer Fire Department for such expenses as the leasing of two new pumper tankers to replace two vehicles that are more than 20-years-old.
In his proposed $28.5 million 2018 budget, Supervisor Kenny Schmitt proposed keeping the town’s contribution to the Mahopac Department flat at $1.2 million. It its Sept. 6 letter to Schmitt, the department stated the funding was set at $1.2 million for the 2016 budget, and repeated this year, following theft of money from the department by its former treasurer. The theft wiped out the department’s savings, Edward Scott, chairman of the board of fire commissioners, stated in the letter. The department also needs to make repairs to its substation and headquarters, Scott stated.
Scott said at the Oct. 11 town board meeting the department is seeking an additional $200,000 from the town for next year. The pumper tankers would be obtained via a lease arrangement that would allow the department to purchase the vehicles in the future. Scott said the two current pumper tankers have needed many repairs due to their age. One of the trucks would be leased by the end of this year and the other would be leased beginning in 2018.
Schmitt asked how much has the repairs cost for the two vehicles in recent years. Scott said the repairs on the vehicles cost about $27,000 last year and so far in 2017 the repairs have cost about $15,000.
Councilman Jonathan Schneider asked if the town board could be provided with an equipment replacement schedule from the fire department. Scott said the department provided the schedule to the board last and would provide it again to the board.
Scott said the department’s plan is to obtain the two vehicles through a 10-year lease with an option to buy them.
Schmitt said he understood that the vehicles needed to be replaced by the department, particularly because of the high cost of repairs for the current vehicles over the past two years.
The town board and Mahopac fire department have been at odds at times following the discovery that former Mahopac FD treasurer Michael Klein stole more than $5 million from the department over 13 years. When the news broke in 2015, the town board decreased the fire department’s funding by $500,000 the next couple of years against the wishes of department leadership.
Klein is now in jail serving a federal prison sentence of more than six years.