KEGELMAN: Further Thoughts on Fire District Election

Letter from Joan Kegelman

Further Thoughts on
Fire District Election

Regarding your recent coverage of the Fly Creek Fire District election, the current board endeavored to bring the district into compliance with the state’s regulations. However, there are those apparently who feel that rules do not apply to them, and that they are entitled to do things as they wish, regardless of state guidelines, protocols of the office of the state comptroller, and legal counsel. I take exception to the quote, “that this existing board had created an unnecessarily rigid and formalistic structure, requiring needless expenditure of thousands of dollars.” Is this due to the request for a forensic audit as suggested by several accounting firms as a first step, as no audit has been done in 16 years, and because the comptroller’s audit cited “more treasurer” oversight?

There are more than 800 fire districts in New York State that the state comptroller has responsibility for, ensuring each fire district uses taxpayer money effectively and efficiently. Therefore, it suggests that the state believes their procedures provide the proper environment for governing a fire district. The majority of the “past commissioners” believe a “congenial and informal basis” is the optimal way to execute the procedures.

Your readers may perhaps be better served by the reporting of facts than hearsay, as election rules require ballots be prepared for each registered voter in the district instead of implying that the board printed so many ballots because the propositions were “contentious.”

A conversation has been started and residents should be aware of how their tax dollars are being used and that the district board has no long term financial plans to benefit the district or the fire company.

The fire company cannot operate with this band-aid approach any longer and one has to wonder if Mr. Kukenberger will commit himself to the full one-year term or resign again, as he and Ms. Wolff did when the board disagreed with them in October of 2021. An attorney, who is legal counsel for New York State’s Association of Fire Districts, advised Ms. Wolff in a letter that, as a member had previously resigned in September, if they resigned as well, they would leave the board with fewer members than required for a quorum, but yet, they both resigned as planned. The comptroller’s audit only happened when the remaining 2021 board members, with two substitutes, voted for it.

These are elected positions with responsibilities and governance.

Joan Kegelman
Former Chair of the
Fly Creek Fire District
Board of Commissioners

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