Letter to the Editor: Former commissioner outraged by fire budget proposal

Dear Editor:
Arlington Fire District in the town of Poughkeepsie will hold their 2021 Budget Hearing on Tuesday, October 20 at 7:30 p.m. via Zoom. District taxpayers should put this on your calendar and plan to attend. Details for the Zoom meeting will be posted on the district website on the day of the hearing at www.afd.org.
The AFD Commissioners and Chief caused an outrageous 8% tax increase, way over the state tax cap of 1.56%, with hundreds of thousands of dollars in newly created spending this year including a give-away labor contract for the firefighters union and $248,000 for renovations to the privately-owned Croft Corners firehouse plus $66,000 a year to rent that building, both included in a new lease this year. Two AFD commissioners, Ralph Chiumento and Bruce Griffing, are members of the Croft Corners Volunteer Fire Company and voted to approve the lease that directs hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars to their fire company.
AFD taxpayers already pay more in taxes to the fire district that we do to the town or county.  This will make it even worse. The budget increase is $1.4 million, from $18.4 million to $19.8 million.
Major drivers of this outrageous tax increase are:  +$500,000 Firefighter Salaries ($8.1 million total), +$410,200 Police & Fire Retirement System (PFRS), ($2.4 million total), +$300,000 Overtime ($2 million total), +$80,000 Office Staff ($225,000 total), +$16,700 Employees’ Retirement system (ERS), ($73,000 total), +$11,400 for Croft Corners rent ($66,000 total per year) in addition to the $248,000 for Croft Corners firehouse renovations, +$10,000 Career Uniforms ($55,000 total), +$5,000 EMS salaries ($120,000 total).
Jim Beretta
*Editor note:  Mr. Beretta is a former commissioner and president of the board for the Arlington Fire District.  Under Mr. Beretta’s leadership, the American flag was ordered removed from the back of all of the district’s fire engines and trucks.  After substantial public outcry, the flags were returned to the rigs.
The opinions expressed in the letter above belong to the author and do not necessarily represent those of Mid Hudson News.

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