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Oxbow Fire Department frustrated over stalled state money for new station

Updated: May. 13, 2021 at 2:45 PM EDT
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OXBOW, N.Y. (WWNY) - The Oxbow Fire Department is building a new fire station. But, work has stalled because the money the department was awarded from New York state hasn’t fully come in.

Last fall, the fire department learned it was awarded $100,000. However, the state has only paid half and fire department members say, without the other half, there’s not much more they can do.

“We don’t get this other half, we’re going to bankrupt ourselves trying to keep this building going,” said Anne Potter, assistant fire chief.

The exterior remains unfinished, leaving it exposed to the weather, walls aren’t covered, and wires are exposed.

The Oxbow Fire Hall has been under construction since last summer.

The fire department was promised the $100,000 grant from the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York, or DASNY.

The department received a little more than $54,000 last fall, but is still waiting on the rest.

“I, myself, call this ridiculous and very sad,” said Potter.

Potter says DASNY has asked for the same receipts multiple times. She says she understands the state has a job to do, but is confident the department has submitted all the receipts it needs to show how every penny has been spent.

“It started to become a repetitive game with DASNY,” she said.

Without the rest of the grant money, Potter says the department is spending its savings - more than $20,000 worth on supplies and labor.

To make the financial situation tighter, the renovation in limbo has turned the banquet hall into a storage unit, meaning the department can’t make money by hosting fundraisers, dinners, and other events. Potter says they’re missing out on thousands of dollars in revenue.

In a press release, DASNY said, “In this program, funding is provided as reimbursement after work has been done and, at this point, the Fire Department has access to more than 82% of the funds for spending they have done. We continue to work closely with the Fire Department officials to obtain documentation to allocate the remainder of the funds.”

DASNY says more than $9,600 remains unaccounted for.

But, Potter says they have proof for where the money has ben spent.

“We’re not messing around down here. We’re not taking the money, we’re not spending inappropriately. I can assure the taxpayers that every ounce of money we’ve got has gone into this fire department,” she said.

It was State Senator Patty Ritchie who earmarked the money for the fire department. Her office is reaching out to DASNY to see what the holdup is all about.

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