Friday, July 27, 2007

ROUND THE CLOCK NEGOTIATIONS NEEDED FOR HASTINGS & IRVINGTON FIRE CONTRACTS

The Hastings & Irvington Fire contracts expired over a year and a half ago. I have been trying (in recent months) to persuade the Town Board to meet with village/fire representatives to settle the contracts. Both fire departments are all volunteer and serve parts of unincorporated Greenburgh. They have not been reimbursed for services they provide. They do a great job protecting residents of the villages and the unincorporated sections of town.
I encourage the Town Board to schedule the round the clock negotiations so we can have a contract and so the volunteer fire depts can be paid for the services rendered.
It takes 3 votes on the Town Council to approve a contract.

31 comments:

Anonymous said...

What's the reason that the town board won't move to pay this group of firefighters.I'd like to see if Sheehan's son was to be paid for his services,would he then move to reimburse them the monies.Come on these men and women save our lives,and our homes. It seems since Sheehan came aboard everthing becomes a political issue. Here we go again Feiner says yes the disfuntional board says, no. Feiner you should have said no they would have voted yes. .

Anonymous said...

I don't understand what this means. What are fire contracts? Does the town pay the villages for coverage of Unincorporated Greenburgh neighborhoods near the villages, or something like that? If so, how much? Is it an annual thing or a per-situation thing? What's the difference between the old contracts and the proposed contracts?

If the contract with Hastings doesn't work out, can Yonkers be offered the contract instead? (I'm assuming the Hastings might cover the unincorporated neighborhood near Saw Mill River Road and Jackson Avenue; I don't know.)

And, assuming that Irvington village fire department might covers the East Irvington neightborhood of Unincorporated Greenburgh, if the contract with Irvington doesn't work out, can Elmsford be offered the contract instead?

I think fire safety is a big deal, so give us info about the situation, and I bet a bunch of residents will help you with petitioning the Town Board or whomever else is involved.

Michael Kolesar said...

Dear Anonymous 7/27 1:37PM,

In brief, fire protection is provided by various Engine Companies, which are separate legal entities from the various Villages. It is an Engine Company that provide the services, not the various Villages.

The contacts generally call for a tax that is levied on the fire district (in most of these cases a combination of area in a Village and an area in unincorporated Greenburgh) based upon assessed value of all of the property in that district. Since the Village property owners (both commercial and residential) already pay their portion of this cost through their respective Village taxes, the burden is just on the applicable fire costs.

I don't know what the specific issues are in these two cases, but it seems eminently unfair to ask people to provide services and not pay them. What if the Engine Companies decide that no pay, no protection? Would the Town Council like to see a structure burn down because they have other priorities, like raming through a new ethics law? Where are the priorities? How about a "special" session like the one today to work this out?

Anonymous said...

Could Glenville, Hartsdale or Fairview be given a chance to bid on any parts of these contracts? All of Greenburgh should be treated fairly, not just the Villages.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Mr. Kolesar. Now I sort of get it.

Wondering ... Wouldn't it make more sense to have fire protection set up by municipality, just like police protection is? Of course area departments all help out each other, but why not just have one Unincorporated Greenburgh Fire Department (still with the various stations) just like we have one Unincorporated Greenburgh Police Department.

Anonymous said...

Yes, please, more information. Does the part of Hastings in unincorporated Greenburgh and the East Irvington fire district pay more, less or the same as the Hastings and Irvington villages do for fire protection that is in their village tax payment? Do these two areas pay more or the same in fire district tax than the rest of unincorporated G'burgh?
Is the town holding out for a fair fire tax for these two areas? What are the issues? To think that fire protection could be interupted by contract disputes is FRIEGHTENING for residents.

Anonymous said...

Arent these VOLUNTEER departments? How much could it cost to run these Volunteer Departments?

Anonymous said...

"Aren't these volunteer fire departments? How much does it cost to run these departments?" asks 10.17pm.

Someone has to pay for the fire trucks, uniforms, cost of maintaining trucks, training of volunteers, upkeep of the building where trucks are kept and where there are meeting rooms and hopefully, for an occassional party for the hardwoking volunteers. From a previous blogger's statements it appears that they are "engine companies" and they raise their own money - ie do not get money from the village - rather charge the village and the unincoporated areas mentioned.

Why is this such a secret. How can this information be found out? What are their budgets? Is everyone receiving services being charged a fair amount?

The question is: are the unincorporated areas of Hastings and Irvington being "soaked" because they are not in the incoporated villages, in comparison to what village residents pay OR are the fire departments just asking for the fair share from these unincoprporated areas?

Anonymous said...

No one is expecting something for nothing, except the villages who get access to Town facilities for no charge.

No, we need a more rational approach. We never want a "no-bid" contract, if that can be avoided. Has the contract been offered to others?

Michael Kolesar said...

To answer some of the questions as best I can, and I can only speak about the two fire districts that involve the Ardsley Engine Company (and some of that is based on limited first hand knowledge) and indirectly the Village of Ardsley (namely, the South Ardsley and Chauncey fire districts)(although it works pretty much the same for all because there are state laws governing these operations):

Each Village through its normal annual budget setting process, establishes an operating budget for the costs of fire protection, obviously with input from the people who know, namely the leadership of the engine companies.

Let's say it is $100,000. In the case of the South Ardsley fire district and Chauncy fire districts, the combined assessments for these areas, including the property within the Village of Ardsley is the "denometer" which establishes the tax rate. The "numerator" is the assessed values of the properties outside of the Village. In the case of the above two, it is about 32%. So since the assessed values of the entire fire district is 32% from these portions of unincorporated Greenburgh, they pay 32% of the Village budget plus a fee as permitted under state law that goes directly to the engine company for costs not included in the Village budget.

How the various fire district lines were drawn is a relic of the past, just like the various school districts. It just happened that way over time. No magic as far as I can tell.

Looking at the three fire districts in the south western portion of the Town, part of the consideration is how fast one can get coverage. Greenville couldn't get there in gereral that quickly, plus one wouldn't want too large of an area to cover in case there were multiple calls at the same time.

All portions of these fire districts pay the same basic rate, since the costs are in the respective Village budgets. The Town Comptroller has typically reviewed the costs that are included. The areas of unincorportaed Greenburgh typically pay less that the Hartsdale, Greenville and Fairview districts because of the volunteer nature of these engine companies. There are no full time paid chiefs, etc.

I hope this helps. If I've missed any key points, please feel free to contact me directly.

Anonymous said...

they pay 32% of the Village budget PLUS A FEE (Fee???) as permitted under state law that goes directly to the engine company for costs not included in the Village budget.

I think there are too many variables here. I dont like no-bid contracts.

Also -- do these costs only get allocated to persons not resident in a FD. What about the people resident in Fairview, Hartsdale, or Glenville? Do we have to pay for our own FDs, plus part of someone elses??

Anonymous said...

the town council should earn their salary and approve contracts in a timely manner. This is a disgrace.

Anonymous said...

If the contracts can't be worked out soon, then it's time to go elsewhere. Yonkers (Station 10) would be a wiser choice than Hastings for the Donald Park unincorporated area. And the East Irvington unincorporated area could be served by Fairview.

Also, instead of paying Ardsley and Hastings to do Unincorporated Greenburgh's fire protection for South Ardsley, Chauncey and Donald Park, why not take that money and open another station house - perhaps at the old State Farm building at Jackson and Saw Mill? It would serve those three fire protection districts, and be a great back-up location for Yonkers, Hastings, Ardsley and Greenville.

By the way, why is Chauncey even part of Unincorporated Greenburgh still? It should have been incorporated into Ardsley village decades ago.

This antiquated unincorporated silliness causes so much difficulty.

Anonymous said...

Why does the Greenville FD in Edgemont always respond to Mt. Vernon?" Greenburgh is nowhere near Mt. Vernon.

Anonymous said...

DID YOU EVER HEAR OF MUTUAL AID. EVERY FIRE DEPT.WHEN HELP IS NEEDED CALLS GO OUT FOR ASSISTANCE TO THE NEIGHBORING FIRE HOUSES. Whomever, is available answers the call.

Anonymous said...

This smells to me like Feiner trying to pander to another special interest group. We need to understand what is proposed and what options there are. This entire town has had enough of Paul giving away $$$ to special interests like Valhalla.

Michael Kolesar said...

Dear Anonymous 7/28 5:47PM,

It would be helpful if you would identify yourself.

The only parties that pay for a fire district are the property owners of that district, except when the Town awards $100,000 to the Fairview District that the entire Town pays for. So, Greenville doesn't pay for Fairview, South Ardsley doesn't pay for Elmsford, etc.

I doubt that Yonkers union contract would allow it to go outside of the Yonkers city limits and I am not sure that the taxpayers of Yonkers would go for that. How would you establish a rate for a complex city wide fire department such as Yonkers? Going to pay for special services?

To Anonymous 7/28 7:50 PM,

I agree that the Chauncey situation doesn't make sense for a lot of reasons, but these property owners probably wouldn't want to become a part of the Village of Ardsley as their taxes would almost double, even if many (but not all) of the services are "better".

To Anonymous 7/29 11:14AM,

These contracts have been in existence for decades. How can you say the Supervisor is "pandering"? What are the issues? I don't know, so I can't comment on the specifics and since these are negotiations, I gather that under the "new" ethics law, no one in the Town administration can either. What a shame.

Anonymous said...

Michael,

For the nth time, I can not afford to publicly attack the supervisor. I work for a living, and do not want him having an aid sending nasty letters to everyone I work for.

Why is the supervisor even getting involved. If this is all up to Chaucy, etc. they should negotate.

Anonymous said...

Why won't the Town Board meet and start negotiating. Feiner wants round the clock negotiations. He wants a fair contract.

Anonymous said...

I have no confidence Paul wants a fair contract. He wants to give away money to Valhalla when the state said no. He has no concept of being fair to all of the Town's taxpayers. We are all tired of his bullying.

Anonymous said...

The Town money that goes to the Hastings and Irvington fire departments comes from a tax bill (an a hefty fee at that) charged only to the people in unincorporated Hastings and unincorporated Irvington tax payers who use these engine comopanies service. IT IS NOT CHARGED OR COLLECTED FROM TO ANY OTHER TAXPAYERS IN THE UNCORPORATED TOWN.

Anonymous said...

Have any other fire districts been given the opportunity to bid on this contract?

Anonymous said...

What is this about a "hefty fee"? I am sick and tired of Feiner thinking that unincorporated Gburgh exists solely to subsidize the villages.

Michael Kolesar said...

Dear Anonymous 7/29 12:50 PM,

There is no "government" for the Chauncey fire district which is why the Town Council has to sign off on all of these deals.

To 6:29 PM - these arrangements have been around for decades. They are nothing new. I don't know what the hold up is in these two instances, so I can't comment. Historically, the Town has been late in renewing these. The Ardsley contract was almost a year late and that was finalized while I was still a Trustee.

The "hefty" fee is set under a STATE law, not a local "giveaway."

Comments are great, but one really ought to do some homework on these issues. The cost for fire protection for those parts of unincorporated Greenburgh fortunate to be in one of these districts is a fraction of the cost of the paid staffed districts of Greenville, Hartsdale and Fairview with the "hefty" fee.

Anonymous said...

Mike,

"The "hefty" fee is set under a STATE law, not a local "giveaway.""

State law may allow it -- but the state isnt paying -- the town government must protect all taxpayers.

Anonymous said...

"These arrangements have been around for decades. They are nothing new."

Precisely the reason to take a careful, critical look at the matter for all the unincorporated fire protection districts.

It does seems silly that we (Unincorporated Greenburgh) don't have one comprehensive fire department, just as we have one comprehensive police department.

Anonymous said...

The fire districts serve unincorporated Greenburgh --Donald Park and E IRvington

Anonymous said...

Why dont all the fire departments merge or if unions wont allow it all the paid ones merge and all the volunteer ones merge!

Anonymous said...

"The fire districts serve unincorporated Greenburgh --Donald Park and E IRvington"

Yes, but there are other fire districts in Unincorporated Greenburgh, too, that are served by other departments. I'm not feeling too bad, though, for the residents' if the rate goes up since the rest of Unincorporated Greenburgh pays five times more than those fire protection districts.

Tax Rate per $1000:

Fairview 110.3455
Greenville 91.8407
Hartsdale 115.8508

South Ardsley (Ardsley) 27.7065
Chauncey (Ardsley) 20.2877
Donald Park (Hastings) 26.2471
East Irvington (Irvington) 22.9230
Glenville (Tarrytown) 20.3327
North Elmsford (Elmsford) 15.2963
West Elmsford (Elmsford) 18.0066

Anonymous said...

Very helpful schedule. This shows there is clearly no need for the town to subsidize volunteer districts, by taxes or by giving away the waterwheel property.

Anonymous said...

How are the round-the-clock negotiations going? Progress? Results?