Friday, March 9, 2018




Newburgh council members struggle over funding fire department

Ahlers and City Comptroller Katie Mack

NEWBURGH – The second federal two-year grant to pay for 12 Newburgh city firefighters expires in July and council members, Thursday night, continued their discussions on whether to lay them off or use $385,000 of a more than $500,000 in additional Orange County sales tax reimbursement to retain them.

If the city does keep them on, it will face the challenge of having to come up with $1 million to fund them for all of 2019.

City Manager Michael Ciaravino suggested since the county has a $52 million unappropriated fund balance, perhaps it could make a larger long-term commitment to the city.

“The county has quite a cushion so if we are talking about our capacity in the Newburgh Fire Department to cover emergencies on the Hudson River or in our neighboring communities, that is something that we need to have a region-wide discussion,” he said.

Ciaravino also noted the governor has been promoting municipal sharing of services and perhaps that should be explored.

The Newburgh department is comprised of paid firefighters while the surrounding communities all have volunteers.

While the city helps the towns and vice versa, under mutual aid, Acting Fire Chief Terry Ahlers noted Newburgh cannot charge the volunteer departments for their service.


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