Republicans respond to fire allowance payments criticism

Republicans are responding to Democratic campaign complaints that the city is delaying payment of allowances to the four volunteer fire companies that are used to pay their insurance premiums.

For the current fiscal year, the Board of Aldermen allocated $10,000 each — or $40,000 in total — to the fire companies to be used for expenses.

In the past, Democratic Alderman Jack Finn said, the amount allocated by the Board of Aldermen has been paid to the fire companies on a timely basis.

Republican Mayor Mark Lauretti, said the fire companies have only received $1,500 so far this fiscal year because that is the amount called for in the city ordinance.

“It’s the ordinance that dictates how much we give,” Lauretti said. “We have to stop going against the ordinance.”

The mayor suggested the Board of Aldermen should update the ordinance.

Clarifying payments

Aldermanic President John F. Anglace Jr., a Republican, said the city is trying to clarify what type of insurance coverage and policies the four fire companies have now.

He said this process has been slowed down because not all the companies have provided the requested information to the city.

Anglace said the city wants to make sure the insurance coverage isn’t being duplicated through other policies, and that it is consistent among the different fire companies.

He said the $1,500 given to the fire companies may be spent at their own discretion, and he expects the city to cover other insurance payments out of the remaining $34,000 budgeted for all the companies.

“We’re OK with that,” Anglace said.

Because the ordinance requires paying $1,500, he said, paying more that that means “we have to justify the difference.”

Ordinance amount hasn’t changed

Anglace said the current ordinance with the $1,500 amount hasn’t been changed since the early 1990s.

Finn, who also is a volunteer firefighter, said the fire companies have received letters from the city requesting information on their insurance payments and stating the premiums should be reimbursed by the city.

The important thing is that the fire companies be reimbursed for their insurance costs in a timely manner, Finn said.

He said he supports changing the ordinance to increase the annual allowance to the fire companies.