A heated debate on the renovations for Syracuse Fire Station I ended Tuesday night in a tie vote with Syracuse Clerk-Treasurer Julie Kline refusing to break the tie.
Syracuse Town Council President Bill Musser was absent from last night’s meeting during the discussions, which began when councilman Brian Woody explained the fire territory board had whittled the renovation budget for Fire Station I down from $669,000 to $541,000. The board would have reached the agreed upon amount of $450,000, however, if the station is renovated state law will require a sprinkler system be installed. Currently the building, which was constructed in the 1960s, does not have a sprinkler system.
Councilman Paul Stoelting complained, stating matters regarding the fire territory should be listed as agenda items rather than falling under new/old business. Councilman Larry Siegel pointed out the council has lots of information regarding other issues coming before it, but nothing from the fire territory.
Siegel also questioned if the fire territory board knew what it wanted and questioned the cost. Woody stated the fire territory board has maintained there is a need to renovate the station, the plan to meet that need is all that has changed.
Stoelting said he would not make major decisions about spending large amounts of money without any information or time to think about it. Town manager Henry DeJulia suggested Fire Chief Mickey Scott come and make a presentation to the council about the plans.
Siegel suggested the council vote to rescind the $450,000 to renovate the station, forcing the fire territory board to present what it needs, not what it wants. The vote came down to Stoelting and Siegel voting to rescind the funds and Woody and councilwoman Kathy Beer voting not too. When asked to break the tie in Musser’s absence, Kline refused. As clerk-treasurer, Kline is allowed by state law to break tie votes of the council. However, she said she did not have enough information on the issue.
The Syracuse Town Council did vote Tuesday night to advertise the 2014 budget as presented. Kline reported the proposed 2014 budget is $3,331,981 with a levy of $1,700,562, which a decrease over the 2013 budget. The estimated maximum levy is $1,801,890, meaning the budget came in $101,328 under maximum levy.
Additionally, Kline informed the council the net assessed value for the town is $186,731,412 which is a decrease of 1.8 percent. If the budget is approved by the county, the tax rate will drop by about a penny.
In other business, the council approved a resolution to establish a riverfront development district. Jason Traycoff came before the board last month suggesting a riverfront development district, which would allow a non-transferable permit for a business to sell alcoholic beverages for on-premises consumption only, in a restaurant on land or in a historic river vessel, within a municipal riverfront development. The district will fit within the Syracuse Development District.
During public comments on that matter, resident Sharon Fowler, asked where the “river” is. Woody explained the Indiana Department of Natural Resources has no specific definition of a river prompting Fowler to say she did not then see a need for such a development.