By Derek Liebig
The Whitehall Volunteer Fire Company is expected to be able to hold a coin drop later this summer after the village attorneydetermined the practice was legal.
Mayor Peter Telisky said he received a response from Tony Jordan Tuesday afternoon who saidhe believes that coin drops are permissible.
“Tony can find nothing that prohibits coin drops from being held within the village,” Telisky said.
Following the ruling, WVFC president Brian Brooks submitted a written request to hold a coin drop near the intersection of Poultney and William’s streets on Labor Day.
Although the board declined to give a decision on the request, they did pass a resolution to review and submit the letter with the understanding that if they didn’t explicitly deny the request, then there was a tacit agreement that they would be able to hold their coin drop.
According to Erikca Seller-Ryan, a representative from Tony Jordan’s office, coin drops are legal because villages have the authority to regulate the use of highways under municipal home law.
That law extends to any road or highways within the jurisdictional boundary of the village, including roads that are considered state highways.
She said the New York State Department of Transportation may not like the idea of coin drops but don’t have the authority to enforce it.
The opinion backs up the assertions of Brooks who has claimed all along that coin drops are legally permissible.
He has argued that the village has the right to regulate what happens on their streets, comparing the situation to vendors in New York City who are allowed to operate on Broadway in Manhattan, even though the road is technically state Route 9.
“The state doesn’t issue their licenses, the City of New York does because it falls under home law,” Brooks said following Tuesday’s board meeting.
The village was cautioned that it may be advisable to regulate who is on the road. For instance, it was suggested that it may be a good idea to restrict persons under the age of 18 from participating in coin drops.
Issues of liability were also briefly discussed but the village was told they weren’t any more liable during a coin drop than other activities that may be held on highways, such as parades.
The opinion by Jordan’s office was welcomed by Brooks who said the fire department depends on the proceeds it receives from coin drops.
He said the department has 15 or 16 members who want to take part in a First Response Course later this fall, but at a price of nearly $4,000, it was going to be difficult to cover the cost without finding additional sources of revenue or members having to dip into their own money.