Generally, I would not enter into political dialog in this forum but believe a response to Mike Hammond’s letter of Oct. 18 is warranted.
As a whole, the Town Board has fiduciary responsibility for the overall governance of the town. The supervisor is an equal voting member of the board and administers all majority board actions. The governance structure is a board/committee-based system. The supervisor’s job, as CEO/CFO, is to oversee day-to-day operations and taxpayer monies.
Volunteer fire and rescue departments are very important for the health, safety and well-being of our Town. We sincerely appreciate their service and wholeheartedly support them. There are two fire districts in the town: the Canton Fire District and the Morley Fire District, which is a separate taxing jurisdiction system administered by the town.
Prior to 2018, by previous, unwritten agreement, the Town Highway Department worked on Morley, Pyrites and Rensselaer Falls fire/rescue vehicles. After the elected highway superintendent and staff raised this matter and based on their liability concerns, the Town Board discontinued the practice.
We then created a fire protection task force to identify critical issues and to discuss how we can further support fire departments in the town of Canton. As a result, the Town Board increased overall funding over a three-year period to those departments from $32,000 to $45,000. We will be increasing their funding in 2022.
In addition, verbal agreements several years ago on town financial support of the new Canton fire station and two trucks were made. Starting in 2018, we made sure written agreements were in place for additional items that were out of the scope of the annual fire department contract of $117,000. Those liabilities are expected to be finished in 2022.
In August 2017, the Town Board contracted with Gray & Gray CPA to help work through issues remaining from the previous administration. I continued with the agreement because it is fiscally responsible to have an independent firm do payroll, liabilities, retirement reporting, accounts payable and state AUD reporting and to assist with budget development.
One of my goals was to have an independent monthly financial report to the board. That’s exactly what we do. The annual cost is $55,000 of the multimillion-dollar budget.
The Town Board has fulfilled our fiduciary responsibility by making several transparent systemic changes in the past four years. It is important that Mr. Hammond and all Canton residents know the facts. I look forward to the town and village of Rensselaer Falls working together in the future.
Mary Ann Ashley
The writer is supervisor for the town of Canton.