The Village of Prospect is trying to figure out how to deal with some legal issues that could dissolve the village or force them to go bankrupt. YNN's Andrew Sorensen tells us why and what the village can do from here.
PROSPECT, N.Y. -- This week, the Prospect Fire Company canceled their biggest annual fundraiser, the Firemen's Field Days, due to financial concerns. Those concerns stem from some ironic events that have them in the worst kind of quagmire.
"The village and the fire company will both end up dissolving," said Wayne Premo, Prospect Fire Chief.
Premo said they've been paying worker's compensation to an ex-firefighter since about 2010.
"It wasn't fire related," he explained. "It was at an event, field days, and didn't appear to be a severe injury, but it went a lot further than anyone expected."
They're being asked to settle the claim for about $400,000. According to Prospect Mayor Francis Righi, it gets worse.
"The tremendous and devastating financial burden that's been placed on us by the Oneida County self-insurance plan, well, basically (it's) going to bankrupt us," said Righi.
If they could have handled $400,000, collecting only about three percent of that per year in taxes, their insurance bill with the county's self-insurance plan would definitely break the bank.
"Our premium rates went from $308 a year to, this year, we paid $19,000. Next year will be $28,000 and it keeps rolling up from there," Righi said.
Now they're down to three options.
"Bankruptcy being one of them, which has never been done in New York State, or dissolving just the fire company or dissolving the village and fire company," said Premo.
Bankruptcy may not get them out of it. Dissolving might still leave the check to taxes.
So, considering the situation they're in, the village canceled the event where this whole thing started, not wanting another bill to pay.
"And it's going to be severe to the fire company and we're a relatively small fire company and we don't have a lot of other fundraisers. We rely on the field days," Premo said.
But Premo said the fire company is likely to dissolve within the year and be absorbed into the Town of Trenton.
Prospect's fire chief says dissolving could create other issues.
The nearest Trenton fire house would have an emergency response time five to 10 minutes longer than the Prospect company.