On Wednesday, September 18, 2013 the board of fire commissioners regular meeting, usually ignored by everybody, was attended by about two dozen area residents.
The question on everybody’s mind: what is the “Plan B” to the failed budget vote.
After hearing what a typical board (bored?) meeting is like, there was a scheduled speaker, Don Kelly from Point Lookout Property Owners. He made a brief statement of constructive dialogue and had questions pertaining to insurance matters and monies involved that they received.
The fire department has received over $700,000 in insurance money and has only spent 500,000. They have earmarked the balance to be spent on buildings etc. once the new plan is in place. Their stance was explained by Commissioner Steven Weitz : “It makes sense not to go and spend money on individual products or projects, until we have the complete plan. To go and spend money with without a well-thought-out plan would be irresponsible and… this board will not do that”
The commissioners also explained that outside money is not coming from anywhere. After hundreds of hours of work put in by Stephen Weitz and Chas Thompson, on the FEMA paperwork and follow up, the district has received about $28,000 total.
On the 3 million CRZ grants:
“The CRZ has nothing whatsoever to do with fire districts. The fire district was not approached and has received no correspondence about the CRZ plan.” He said.
Commissioner Andrew Richter moved that there would be a special night to discuss the subject of the bond vote, rather than at the regular board meetings.
He asked the community to “give us little leeway (to) do it in 4 to 6 weeks (from now).
“Let us line our ducks up getting on the same page and move forward together” he said.
The issue of nonresidents voting came up again.
Commissioner Steven Weitz answered:
“I did some research. The law is that you must be registered to vote in the fire district.
The old-timers who were here in 1974 may remember property owners being allowed to vote (at that bond issue).
In 1975, the Appellate Division held that (non-registered resident voting) was unconstitutional. The current law says you have to be a resident to vote.”
The board was asked to publicize their meetings better, which they since have started doing. They gave anyone present a copy of the meeting schedule and have since run a notification that came through the Point Lookout Civic Association. They also announced they are moving to allow absentee ballots.
There were complaints about the difficulty navigating the fire district’s website http://pllfd.org/
They said they know and are working on it.
The Commisioners reminded everyone that budgets and meeting minutes are available on their website.
Just click on the website at http://www.pllfd.org/PublicFiles.php
About community input:
The board was told by a speaker “You will have the support if you first come up with the community what you need and why, and then come up with the numbers. ”
Andrew Richter said “we’re looking at the same thing from a different point of view. We can write down a list of what we need and put that up quickly.
I think the first time I show you… “this is what we need”, Someone’s hand is going to go up and say “how much”? This is where we have to get an estimate.”
To me a few things were clear.
People in this town want to be better informed about this. They want to have a say and input on whatever plan is hatched.
By the same token, the fire commissioners have seemed pretty open to explaining things and providing answers, paperwork and information to people who came to them as far as I have seen.
It’s time to work together.
I would suggest that if you want to have a CONSTRUCTIVE say, click on and read or print out the budgets for the original plan for your own KNOWLEDGE.
You can find them here http://www.pllfd.org/PublicFiles.php?uSI=1335288608
Lets familiarize ourselves with the particulars. What are objectionable needs or items you would like more information on?
If you have doubts about the stated estimated costs, that can be hashed out later. It’s an estimate. Over and over residents at this meeting said they wanted to know about the needs and why first, before being told what it’s going to cost. At least three speakers said that.
Maybe knowing about the particulars would help you contribute to making this a success for everyone involved by doing some research if you FOUND a way to save them money.
Maybe you could show the fire commissioners the particular viable grant applications, Sandy money or other government funds you have researched that they’re entitled to that they are missing.
What are your concerns?
What do YOU want?
Any positive suggestions?