Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Wantagh Fire District Budget Hearing

As the Wantagh Fire District (more than eleven square miles in size) includes a section of Seaford west of Seaman's Creek, I attended the public budget hearing of the Wantagh Fire District, October 16, 2007, pursuant to a law signed by Governor Pataki in 2006. The hearing was called to order at 7 p.m. with the pledge to the flag and a moment of silent prayer for those fighting overseas. Superintendent Antonucci gave a Powerpoint presentation of the budget. A comment period followed, but the seven citizens in attendance were told that no questions would be answered. One person commented that the presentation was excellent. With that, the meeting ended at 7:20 p.m.
The number of emergency calls keeps rising, about sixty percent of them for rescue (ambulance) work. Also, an increasing number of calls are transferred from the Nassau County police because their ambulances are already on call.
The superintendent explained the proposed budget of $6,177,500 in less than twenty minutes. Account 100 totals $925,000 for "Personal [personnel?] services."
Account 200 totals $630,000 for purchases.
Account 400 totals $1,551,500 for what seems to be a variety of running expenses. In part, it includes (Account 400 03) $65,000 for Travel/Conventions. Account 400 11 includes $310,000 for Fuel/Light/Water. Account 400 23 includes $30,000 for Travel.
Account 600 totals $1,895,000. In part, it includes $500,000 for hydrant rentals and $420,000 for Service Awards (LOSAP, or Length of Service Award Program).
The tax rate will decrease in 2008, even though the budget went up.
Before the meeting, a six-page summary of the budget was distributed. Also distributed were copies of the Public Hearing Policy, including these two important points:
"3. This is not a question and answer session. This is a hearing designed to solicit comments from the public. The Board wants to hear your concerns so they can better represent you."
"4. Please do not expect the Board to answer any questions, as this time has been reserved for the public to inform the Board of Fire Commissioners about their concerns and comments regarding the proposed budget."

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