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Village of Adams approves resolution authorizing borrowing for expansion of village fire hall


ADAMS — Ignoring calls to put the matter directly to a public vote, the Adams village Board of Trustees on Monday night approved borrowing up to $1.2 million to expand its fire hall by a 6-1 vote.

The vote came during a meeting attended by at least 50 residents, but the board did not allow any public comment. The board also approved seeking bids for the project to gauge how much it will cost.

“I’m looking forward to talking real numbers,” said Mayor Patricia C. Sweetland after the meeting.

The project has come under criticism for its potential cost. Opponents of borrowing will have 30 days to collect 185 signatures in order to put the matter to a public vote in November.

“They’re just going to delay the inevitable,” Planning Board Chairman William J. Doe, an opponent of the borrowing, said of the trustees’ vote.

Voting in favor of the project was Ms. Sweetland, Deputy Mayor Nancy C. Murphy and Trustees Keith S. Perry, Todd M. Race, Philip F. Chatterton and Christopher J. Singleton. Trustee Brian C. Thomas cast the lone opposing vote, calling for the matter to head straight to a public vote.

The meeting started with Ms. Sweetland telling the approximately 50 people in attendance that there would be no public comment period. More than half of the people in attendance wore T-shirts promoting the Adams Fire Department and neighboring departments.

The board heard more details on financial options for the project.

Benjamin J. Maslona, a financial adviser with Fiscal Advisors & Marketing Inc., Syracuse, highlighted two options with how the board could fund the project without raising taxes beyond its 6 percent increase to $7.10 per $1,000 of assessed value in the 2013-14 budget.

In one option, the village could take out a 16-year bond, with annual debt service of about $85,000. The other option would be to extend the bond to 20 years, which would bring annual debt payments of $71,000. However, this option would create additional interest payments of $420,000 during the life of the bond, based on principal of $1.2 million. Either option would occur after four years of annual bond anticipation notes.

Ms. Sweetland repeated the argument she has made in recent months that if the project had more delays, the village’s costs would increase.

With a motion on the table, Mr. Perry spoke at length about the necessity of the project, the amount of research the board had done and the $150,000 spent over the past four years.

“If we now put this project on hold without requesting bids, and without determining if the estimates are accurate, then we’ve wasted that money, we’ve wasted that time,” he said. He also argued that the development and financing plans were “sound.”

After Mr. Perry’s remarks, the board voted and approved the borrowing. Immediately after the initial vote, the board approved the resolution to seek bids on the project by a 6-1 vote, with Mr. Thomas again voting against the resolution.

Mr. Chatterton’s votes came despite months of abstention in discussions about the project because of his status as a member of the Fire Department. After the meeting, he said he decided to vote Monday because he “felt the board had deliberated long enough.”

“I’m getting safety for the firemen, and safety for the residents,” he said.

Asked about the lack of public comment during the meeting, Ms. Sweetland said there was “not much more that could be said.”

“I didn’t see the value of people saying the same things again,” she said.

With the village having about 925 registered voters, a petition would need 185 signatures to launch a referendum, or 20 percent of voters, according to section 9-902 of state Village Law.

Mr. Doe said he would immediately begin collecting signatures to take the matter to a vote.

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