So once again the fire department fielded questions on the bond issue at this weeks very abbreviated, overdue and lengthy civic meeting.
It was well attendeded by probably over 150-200 people.
Sheila Meyer has been recovering from being struck by a car.
Rich Tighe, Vice President has taken over as acting president for the remainder of her term which ends in August.
He is reminding anyone civic minded, they will be seeking a new president.
The fire department gave their Hurricane Preparedness presentation. Essential information that I will be passing on and delving more into in the later, separate post it deserves.
After an update from Gerry Ottavino regarding
“stay off the dunes”
and the reality we may have no dredging until 2014 or later. John Manning reminded everyone of the Civic Association’s Welcome To Summer Party this Saturday, July 6, 2013
The civic association explained they’re not taking sides in the debate over the Fire Department Bond issue:
They are a 501c4 charity. As such, they are not allowed to make political statements beyond advocating for the betterment and protection of Point Lookout.
They said because of that they weren’t going to entertain a call for a vote on the fire department issue.
Things are turned back over to the fire department and they opened up for questions.
We covered some previously covered questions so in the case for brevity I won’t rehash them:
There was a discussion about the fact that 67% of the land in this fire district is off the tax rolls on Town, County, State and Federal lands and parks, schools etc. For all of that the Lido- Pt Lookout fire department gets $16,000 “in lieu of taxes”.
Andy Richter reminds everybody that before all those lands were condemned to become parks they were going to put up high-rises there and the people here stopped it.
It seems this is the price we pay to be a true bedroom community with virtually no business presence in the district either, compared to other towns, that other districts can spread expenses over.
Don Kelly spoke again pointing out that Lido makes up 80% of the district and their firehouse is only getting 29% of the expenditure.
Andy Richter asked him if he was saying Lido was being shortchanged and asked him why that mattered to him.
Commissioner Steven Weitz, from Lido said “Lido is getting what they need. ”
Andy Richter said, “that’s why we’re here to tell you what we need. The only way we can do the renovations we need is by asking your permission to sell bonds.
“The law is specific. Before we can go out to bid we must get financing in place.”
They let everyone know these numbers they are working from are high end and they are hoping the final numbers would be better and hoping to bring the project in under budget
When asked if they were going to sell the rescue property, they said not until after this entire project is done. Even then, it will require a full vote just like this one.
It was mentioned that bond Interest rates have gone up in past few months.
Andy said it was “One of the reasons we are moving quickly. Right now rates very low, but are going up. After it is approved we can go to a bond company to find out the real going percentage we can get”
Fire and Civic relations.
Beth Weisendanger said in preliminary discussions that they stressed that any loss of Ye Olde Firehouse would obviously be an issue for the community.
In response to my question why the civic didnt share the information that they had, Beth Wiesendanger, Civic Association Secretary said “we were told in march no final plans and no price.”
“There was no community information until it was already up for a vote – there was never a community meeting.”
Andrew Richter said : We discussed for over 1 year, and with the board for over 1 year.
Commissioner Jack Paz said “We did meet with the executive board but we didn’t want to come back and tell you it changed.” In relation to the limited information they gave at the time.
Chuck Hansen, Civic Association Treasurer said: “to be very clear: there has been alot of complaining ‘why wasnt civic forthcoming’.
We did not know anything until late February and we were given limited info we could not disseminate.”
John Manning added that Civic Association exists to disseminate information so there was no holding back.
Andy spoke again, saying they had numerous discussions at the fire company board meetings, Which are fully open to the public that nobody ever attends. He understands some people wanted to be told sooner, and the department needed to do what they did, when they did.
It was asked if they would set a cap on the interest rate they would pay. “you can decide right now what the cap would be”.
The diminishing volunteers issue.
Someone then asked “Who gets all the buildings when there’s no more volunteers.”
Andy said “Project what your taxes might be for paid, union fire fighters 24/7/365.”
A resident shouted “that would be the 7.5 million every year, not just once”.
To show what he means, Steven Weitz said that in looking at all options including privatizing the ambulance service, North Shore Hospital, just for 1 manned ambulance – $750,000 a year. That’s equivalent to almost the entire annual fire department budget.
A statement made by (EDIT-Tim Collins, and see his comment below) said “Because people cannot afford to live here, we are losing volunteers, then we’ll have these same problems” If taxes go up.
It was also mentioned again that young people are unable to afford to live here and are working 2-3 jobs these days to pay the bills, and that this is also decreasing the younger FD membership.
Another question “Why are there no absentee ballots?”
Andy said “We never have had them before. The law allows us to not have them. We would be unsure of security and ensuring it would be difficult.” So, they decided not to have it.
Damage at Ye Olde Firehouse
Don Kelly asked “Have you put in a claim from damage Servepro did and put it in the bond issue. ”
Steven Weitz explained “We brought them in to remove all the damaged walls, floors, etc and they also saw cloth covered wiring. There is no claim for what they did. Servpro was paid directly by the insurance company.
Only Registered voters can vote
There was some upset from people who realized that they cannot vote because they’re not registered as Nassau County voters -they are registered somewhere else. They’re upset that they can’t vote on a tax issue that affects them.
It was explained that this is not their policy. This is NY State voting regulations and the fire department does not set the policy. You can go and you can file an affidavit on the day in lieu of voting.
Bonding, from an expert.
Jim Corcoran spoke. He says bonds are his business. “Whatever you vote, when it comes down to a $7 mil bond, rates are low..
Right now I think we would get an “A” rating, you could probably issue a 20 year for 5%.
“Interest rates are low, so if you’re ever going to do it now is the time.” He said there may be a ballon payment at the end.
Andrew Richter spoke to that “There is no balloon payment at the end. It Expires after 23 years.”
What do you think? Have you taken our poll?