Tuesday, June 09, 2009


To: Paul J. Feiner, Supervisor
From: John A. Kapica, Chief of Police
Subject: Career Fire Districts in Greenburgh
Date: June 5th, 2009
You have requested that I provide you with information that might tend to support a consolidation of Greenburgh’s three career fire departments that could result in a savings to taxpayers residing within the three fire districts. Unfortunately, I cannot provide you with specific information on this topic since I lack sufficient knowledge about firefighting operations to render an informed decision on the subject. However, in an attempt to be somewhat responsive, the Assessor, Edye McCarthy, and I have prepared a number of charts which compare expenditures for fire services under the control of the three career fire departments with services provided by the Town under the Town Outside1 (“B”) and Town Wide2 (“A”) budgets. As explained more fully below, in total, six comparisons were performed. One set of charts compares the expenditures for fire protection services in each career district with the cost of all other services provided residents of that district by the Town under the Town Outside and Town Wide budgets. Included in these other services are Police, Community Center, Public Works, Recreation, Library, Town Council, Supervisor, Town Clerk Assessor, Town Court, etc. Additional charts compare the combined cost of fire protection services in the three career districts with the combined cost associated with all other services provided by the Town under the Town Outside (“B”) and Town Wide (“A”) budgets in those districts.
Since fire protection services are analogous to police services in that both directly affect the public safety, we have also attempted to illustrate the comparable cost of fire and police services both within the career fire districts and throughout the unincorporated area of the Town. However, because of the manner in which the Town Budget is prepared, that is the expense for operating a department is found in one section of the budget while fringe benefits and debt service are in others, it is extremely time consuming to calculate the actual total cost associated with a specific department, especially one as large as the police. In contrast, the budgets of the three career fire departments reported in the Town Budget depict the total projected expense of running that department for the fiscal year. In order to better compare the cost of providing fire protection services with police services without going through the compilations and calculations that would be required to provide a meaningful comparison, on these charts we have increased the expense of the Personal Services portion of the Police Operating budget by fifty percent (50%) to account for items such as employee benefits and debt service. Although somewhat inflating the cost of police services, this will provide a more meaningful comparison of the cost of providing fire protection and police services in Greenburgh.
Additionally, since unincorporated Greenburgh residents also pay a portion of the $15,146,832 Town Wide budget, on Charts 1 – 8, we have compared the cost of what taxpayers pay for fire protection under the
1 That area outside the six incorporated villages within the Town.
2 The area comprised of the six incorporated villages and the unincorporated area of the Town.
control of the three career fire departments with the services provided by the Town under both the “A” Town Wide and “B” Town Outside budgets. Included under the services supported under the Town Wide budget are the Town Council, Supervisor, Justices, Comptroller, Assessor, Clerk, Attorney, Engineering Judgment and Claims, Advanced Life Support, Animal Control and a number of others.
The final comparison, Charts 9-10, depicts the cost of fire services throughout unincorporated Greenburgh (including the seven fire protection districts3) with the cost of providing police services to the unincorporated Town. Although the fire protection district contracts are with volunteer services that are considerably less expensive than similar services provided by paid firefighters, this comparison is also informative. Each comparison shows the various expenses as a percentage while the other depicts the expense in dollars.
Some additional assessments were also made with other communities in Westchester and New York State who have paid fire and police services. These can be found in Table 1 on page 6. Since Greenburgh is one of only a handful of communities in Westchester in which fire protection services is primarily provided by career officers, it is difficult to draw accurate comparisons between what the Town and other communities pay for fire protection services. Comparison of individual budgets is also difficult because some jurisdictions prepare their department budgets similarly to Greenburgh in that the Operating Budgets for each department are listed separately from employee benefits while others, such as the City of New Rochelle, include the cost of benefits under each department and debt service separately. Additionally, the career fire departments in cities within the county serve the entire population of those communities while the career departments in Greenburgh serve only a portion of the population. These disparities make it difficult to draw meaningful comparisons although we have noted several that we believe relevant.
All calculations involving comparisons of fire protection services with other Town departments were based on information found in “The Town of Greenburgh Adopted Budget for Fiscal Year 2009.” That document indicates the assessed valuation of the entire Town and the Town Outside to be $578,922,513 and $313,273,346 respectively, while the assessed valuation of properties in the Fairview, Hartsdale and Greenville Fire Districts are $87,043,364, $70,468,142 and $72,176,395 in that order. Therefore what is necessary to determine the percentage of total appropriations paid by taxpayers within each of the three career fire districts is to simply divide the assessed valuation of that district by the total assessed valuation of the Town Wide and Town Outside. These calculations indicate that taxpayers in the Fairview Fire District pay 27.79% of the total appropriations in the Town Outside Budget, while those in Hartsdale contribute 22.49% and Greenville 23.04%. Since the total Appropriations for the Town Outside in 2009 are $62,454,980, Fairview fire district property owners/taxpayers will pay $17,356,239 of that amount while property owners/taxpayers within the Hartsdale fire district will be responsible for $14,046,125 and those in Greenville for $14,389,627. Collectively, the assessed value of the properties within the three career fire districts is $229,687,901 or 73.32% of the total assessed value of the Town Outside. Therefore, the people residing within the area serviced by Greenburgh’s three career fire departments will contribute $45,791,991 towards the total Town Outside budget of $62,454,980. Dividing the $229,687,901 assessed value of property in the three career fire districts by the total assessed value of the entire Town realizes the figure .3968. Consequently, the taxable properties within the area served by the three career fire districts represent 39.68% of the total assessed value of the entire Town. Using this figure we can calculate that property owners/taxpayers within the career districts will pay $6,010,263 of the $15,146,832 Town Wide (“A”) Budget.
Note: These calculations are based on the overall budget number, not the amount to be collected in property taxes.
3 The Town of Greenburgh contracts with the Villages of Ardsley, Elmsford, Hastings-on-Hudson, Irvington and Tarrytown to use their volunteer fire departments to provide fire protection services to those sections of the unincorporated Town not covered by the three career fire districts.
Using these same percentages we can also determine the amount that each district will pay of the operating budget of each Town department (i.e., Police, Community Center, Public Works, Recreation, Library, etc.). For example, as depicted on one of the enclosed charts, property owners/taxpayers in the Fairview Fire District will pay $11,098,500 for fire services in 2009 but only $6,270,897 for police services. As previously mentioned, to make the comparison between the cost of police and fire more valid, we have adjusted4 the Personal Services portion of the Police Department Operating Budget by fifty percent (50%) to account for Employee Benefits and debt service. As an offset to this increase, the Employee Benefits expense on each of these charts has been reduced by a commensurate amount.
Cost of Fire Protection Services - The major finding in this comparison was that the expense associated with providing fire protection services within the area of unincorporated Greenburgh served by the three career fire districts is significantly higher than in other communities within Westchester in which this service is also afforded utilizing career employees. Aside from Education, it is the single most expensive service provided taxpayers residing within the areas served by the three career services.
Comparison between the cost of Fire and Police Services - While there are substantial differences in the services each department delivers, fire protection (under the control of the career fire districts) and police services (under the control of the Town) are analogous in that both are first responders to occurrences that directly endanger life and property, which often places these employees in harm’s way. Both services are also proactively involved in public education and inspection programs to reduce the incidence of conflagration and criminal activity which fall under their respective responsibilities.
With one notable exception, within the larger5 municipalities in Westchester County that support both paid fire and police departments, the budgets of police departments are notably larger than that of the fire departments in their respective municipalities. The most significant reason for this is that in these jurisdictions the operation of the police department generally requires more employees to administer, thereby greatly inflating the personal service cost of that budget. This disparity holds true for all large municipalities throughout the state which fund both these services. The exception to this lies within the Town of Greenburgh where the combined budgets of the three career fire departments, which protect 73.32% of the Town Outside ratables, greatly eclipse that of the police department, which safeguards the entire unincorporated area of the Town. Because of the nature of the services provided by police and fire and this blatant funding anomaly between career fire districts and policing in Greenburgh, our comparisons also include the fire and police budgets of surrounding departments as well as some other cities statewide. This information is contained in Table 2 on page 6.
Information for the Fairview (www.fairviewfire.org) and Hartsdale (www.hartsdalefire.com) Fire Districts was obtained from their Internet Web sites. Although the Greenville Fire Department does not maintain its own Web site, information about it was obtained from the Fire Department Network Web site, which is a nationwide resource for fire department information. That Web site address is
4 Unadjusted Personal Services expense is $13,801,928 for all of unincorporated Greenburgh. The property owners/taxpayers in the three career districts pay 73.32% of this amount or $10,119,573. Increased by 50%, this number becomes $15,179,360, which is then added to the $1,368,156 that represents the balance of the Police Operating budget for a total of $16,547,516.
5 The cities of Rye and Peekskill also are combination departments staffed with career and volunteer members. Peekskill has 24 career officers and 200 volunteers while Rye has 17 career officers and 113 volunteers. Although both are funded through municipal budgets, because a great deal of the service provided is conducted by volunteers, their budgets are comparatively small.
www.firedepartments/newyork/scarsdale/greenvillefiredistrict.html. The three career districts contribute to the New York State Police and Fire Retirement System out of which pensions for firefighter employees are paid.
Fairview Fire Department – The Fairview Fire Department Web site indicates that the department employs forty-four (44) career and eight (8) volunteer firefighters working out of two fire stations. Although the site does not mention civilian employees, there is at least one employed by the district. The 2009 Budget for the department is $11,098,500. Of this amount, $6,092,737 is listed as salaries.
Hartsdale Fire Department – The Hartsdale Fire Department Web site indicates that the department employs thirty-seven (37) career and twelve (12) volunteer firefighters working out of two stations. The Web site does not mention any civilian employees. The 2009 Budget for the department is $9,669,091. Of this amount, $5,336,679 is listed as salaries.
Greenville Fire Department – The information obtained from the Fire Department Network Web site indicates that the department employs thirty-two (32) career and fifteen (15) volunteer firefighters and one (1) non firefighter employee. The 2009 Budget for the department is $7,267,740. Of this amount, $4,062,500 is listed as salaries.
According to the information obtained from the Web sites, the combined number of career firefighters employed by the three districts is one hundred thirteen (113). As indicated in the Adopted 2009 Town Budget document, the combined budgets of the three career fire districts for 2009 is $28,035,331. Of this amount, $15,491,916 is listed as salaries.
Combined, the property owners/taxpayers within the three career districts will pay $45,791,991 of the $62,454,980 Town Outside Budget in addition to $28,035,0+
31 to support the three career fire districts, and $6,010,263 of the Town Wide budget of $15,146,832 for a grand total of $79,837,585. The total cost of services provided exclusively to property owners/taxpayers living within the area of the three career fire districts that are funded under the Town Outside budget is $78,827,322. Fire protection services consume thirty-eight percent (38%) of this amount while the adjusted6 police budget accounts for $16,547,516 or twenty-two percent (22%), some $11,487,815 less than that expended for fire protection services within the three career districts. To provide some insight into the magnitude of this disparity, the $11,487,815 difference in the cost of operating the three career fire districts and providing police services within this same area could fund the salaries and benefits of an additional eighty-five (85) police officers assuming all are at the top grade pay rate and have family medical insurance plans.
Greenburgh Police Department - For the sake of comparison we are providing statistical information on the Police department. The Police department has funding in its budget for 116 police officers and 17 fulltime and 14 civilian part time employees. Also appropriated under the Police department’s salary (Personal Services) lines is about $29,000 for per diem civilian EMTs. The total cost of the Police department’s Personal Services (salary) expense is $13,801,928. While the Police department services all of unincorporated Greenburgh, its expense for salaries is $1,689,988 less than that of the three career fire districts combined. The Police department’s total 2009 Operating Budget is $15,667,934. When we increase the $13,801,928 expense for Personal Services by 50% to account for fringe benefits and other expenses, the total cost of $22,568,898 for maintaining Police department operations is realized. Again, although this cost represents the expense associated with providing service to all of unincorporated Greenburgh, it is $5,466,133 less than that needed to provide fire protection services within the three career fire departments. To arrive at the total cost of fire protection services for the entire unincorporated portion of Greenburgh, we need to add the $1,913,981 expended to fund the seven fire protection districts to that of the three career fire
6 With the Personal Services expense increased by fifty percent (50%).
departments. This realizes a total cost for fire protection in unincorporated Greenburgh of $29,949,012. See charts 9-12.
The Town of Greenburgh contributes to the New York State Police and Fire Retirement System for its police officers and to the New York State Employees Retirement System for civilian employees. Pensions for police officers are paid by the Police and Fire Retirement System while those of clerical employees are paid by the Employees Retirement System. Contributions differ for both systems with Police and Fire being the higher of the two.
Combined Appropriations
Total appropriations under the Town Wide, Town Outside and career fire district budgets for which property owners/taxpayers in unincorporated Greenburgh are responsible amount to $100,599,943.7 Of this amount, $62,454,980 ($39,886,082 without police) is attributable to the Town Outside budget, $8,195,951 is unincorporated Greenburgh’s share of the Town Wide (“A”) budget and $29,949,012 is for fire protection services ($28,035,031 Career departments and $1,913,981 Fire Protection contracts). Police department expenses approximate $22,568,898.8 Therefore, as a percentage of the overall expense, all services, except police, provided under the Town Outside budget account for 39.65%; unincorporated Greenburgh’s share of the Town Wide (“A”) budget expense is 8.15%; Career Fire protection services 27.87%; Fire Protection contracts 1.9%; Police services 22.43%. COMPARISONS
As previously mentioned, with the exception of Greenburgh, in communities which support both career fire and police departments, the expense for fire protection services is always considerably less than that of police services. Table 1 lists the total budget of six city departments, four of which are in Westchester, that provide fire protection and police services utilizing paid employees as well as their appropriations for fire and police services and contrasts them with the cost of fire and police protection in Greenburgh. The fiscal years in these communities somewhat vary. Some cities have a July 1st through June 30th fiscal year, while others along with Greenburgh are January 1st through December 31st. In those cities whose fiscal years are July 1st through June 30th, the budget reflected is their 2008/2009 Adopted Budget.
7 Does not include County, School, Special District taxes or account for offsetting revenues.
8 Includes fringe benefits and a significant allowance for debt service which undoubtedly results in an overstatement of the actual cost of police operations.
New Rochelle
Mt. Vernon
White Plains
(within the career districts)9
(unincorporated Greenburgh)10
NOTE: The fire and police budgets of the cities of New Rochelle and White Plains include the cost of fringe benefits, while the others only reflect their Operating Budgets. None contain any provision for debt service. Appropriations for both fringe benefits and debt service were included in the Greenburgh Police Department’s $22,568,898 cost projection.
Cost Comparisons in Individual Career Districts – Following is a table that depicts the cost to property owners/taxpayers in each fire district of various budgeted services. The total budget number for each district reflects its pro-rated share of the Town Outside, Town Wide and career fire department budgets. The Police department expense contains an increase of 50% in the Personal Services portion of its apportioned budget to account for fringe benefits and debt service. Amounts that calculated to less than one percent (1%) of the overall department budget (i.e., Fairview/Greenburgh Pool, AF Veteran Park, etc.) were included under “All Others.”
Budgeted Amount
Budgeted Amount
Budgeted Amount
Fire Protection
$11,098,500 (36.11%)
$9,669,091 (37.83%)
$7,267,740 (30.87%)
Police Protection
6,270,897 (20.40%)
5,075,745 (19.86%)
5,199,874 (22.08%)
“A” Fund Services
2,278,084 ( 7.42%)
1,843,369 ( 7.21%)
1,888,810 ( 8.02%)
Transfers to Other
1,883,833 ( 6.13%)
1,524,555 ( 5.96%)
1,561,839 ( 6.63%)
1,342,466 ( 4.37%)
1,086,436 ( 4.25%)
1,113,005 ( 4.73%)
1,227,490 ( 3.99%)
993,388 ( 3.89%)
1,017,681 ( 4.32%)
Employee Benefits
1,220,064 ( 3.97%)
986,569 ( 3.86%)
1,010,696 ( 4.29%)
894,282 ( 2.91%)
723,728 ( 2.83%)
741,247 ( 3.15%)
Community Center
843,206 ( 2.74%)
682,393 ( 2.67%)
699,081 ( 2.97%)
694,750 ( 2.26%)
562,250 ( 2.20%)
576,000 ( 2.45%)
Rec/Park Mtce.
486,012 ( 1.58%)
393,322 ( 1.54%)
402,941 ( 1.71%)
Recreation Admin.
471,664 ( 1.53%)
381,710 ( 1.49%)
391,045 ( 1.66%)
Contingent Acct.
318,196 ( 1.03%)
257,511 ( 1.00%)
263,808 ( 1.01%)
All Others
1,703,444 ( 5.54%)
1,378,576 ( 5.39%)
1,412,287 ( 6.00%)
9 Within the three career fire districts, includes apportioned Town Outside, Town Wide and Police expense.
10 All of unincorporated Greenburgh, includes the Town Outside expense, apportioned Town Wide expense, the budgets of both the career fire districts and the fire protection districts.
Salary and Pension Costs
When comparing the cumulative budgets of the career fire districts with that of the Police department, two major disparities become apparent that cannot be explained simply by looking at the expense information for the fire districts contained in the Town’s budget document. The first of these involves salaries. Although the Police department has significantly more employees, 116 police officers, 17 fulltime and 14 civilian part time employees, than the three districts employ, 113 firefighters and perhaps 3 civilian employees, the combined expense for salaries of the three districts exceeds that of the police by $1,689,988 ($15,491,916 as compared with $13,801,928). Without obtaining specific salary information from the individual fire districts, which admittedly was not done for this report, one can only speculate as to why this significant disparity exists. There are a number of possibilities which include higher salaries than those earned by police officers, a disproportionate number of ranking officers, payments made under § 207-a of the GML, contractual requirements, and overtime usage to name a few.
Perhaps an even more significant anomaly is the amount collectively paid by the districts into the New York State Police and Fire Retirement System as compared to that paid by the Town for police services. New York State offers a number of pension plan options that governments/districts may opt into. For example, police officers and firefighters who joined their departments prior to July 1st, 1973 were designated as Tier 1 members of the system entitled to have their pensions calculated on their final 12 months of service, which is usually the period in which the officer’s earning are the highest.11 Referred to as Final Year Average Salary or FAS, this benefit was only available to Tier 1 members unless the individual government or district opted to provide this additional benefit to their police officers or firefighters. Of course, this benefit is significantly more expensive than the basic best three consecutive year plan. There are also other optional plans that pay additional premiums to police officers and firefighters. One such plan, referred to as 384-e, provides an additional 1/60th of an officer or firefighter’s FAS for each year worked after twenty years are completed to a maximum of 70% of salary. Pension benefits are the subject of collective bargaining and a government or district can opt to provide one or more special plans to its members through this medium. The percentage of salary contributed by a district or municipality into the pension system is therefore a function of the type of plan or plans the district/municipality provides for its employees. Since the contribution for Tier 1 members is also higher than the basic plan, having a large number of Tier 1 members employed could also increase contributions. Since Tier 1 members had to join the system prior to July 1st, 1973, it is unlikely that this is responsible for a significant portion of the disparity. The Police department has one remaining Tier 1 member. Since the majority of firefighters within the career districts are covered by special plans, this is the likely reason. Civilian employees are covered by the New York State Employees Retirement System and pension contributions for them are considerably less than that for police and fire.
For 2009, $2,569,462 has been appropriated for pension contributions under the collective budgets of the three career fire districts. Although the specific amount the Town has appropriated as payment to the pension system for its police officers for 2009 is not immediately available, the total funding for pensions appropriated by the Town for all of its employees for the current year is $2,443,665. This covers 116 police officers and the 424 civilian Town employees in a state pension system. For most of 2008, the Town employed 122 police officers and expended $1,753,850 in payments to the pension system for these employees. The budgets of the three career fire departments indicate that $2,458,247 was expended to fund firefighter and perhaps several civilian employee pensions during this same year. This means that in 2008, the three career fire districts paid $704,397 more in contributions to the NYS Pension System for 113 firefighters than the Town paid for 122 police officers.
11 The Pension System must also calculate the officer’s pension benefits based on the best three consecutive years of his last five of employment and provide him/her with the higher of the two.
As stated early on in this document, I am not sufficiently versed in fire protection operations to render any opinion as to whether efficiencies could be realized through the consolidation of Greenburgh’s three career fire districts. Issues such as this should properly be the subject of an in-depth study by an independent organization that is knowledgeable in these matters and has a proven record of experience. Although the economic crisis faced by municipal governments throughout the state and nation has provided renewed impetus to exploring the consolidation of comparable services as a means of saving taxpayer dollars, it is not the panacea for our economic woes. In fact, occasionally, it is counterproductive and results in a less efficient and more costly system. Where public safety is concerned, the implications of any such initiative must be closely studied before action is taken as an ill-conceived plan could have a catastrophic impact on the safety of our residents.
Notwithstanding these cautionary comments, some general discussion on the potential pros and cons of consolidation is warranted.
When consolidation works, savings are realized through the elimination of duplicitous resources thereby streamlining the operation of the entity and creating an economy of scale. Resources could be personnel, a class of personnel such as management, infrastructure, vehicles, etc. However, each situation is unique and the lesson learned is that consolidation does not always result in lower costs. Studies in the United States seem to suggest that the most successful consolidations have been between smaller communities. In a report published in 1987, The Federal Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations (ACIR) concluded that per capita costs generally fall when consolidating municipalities of up to 25,000; remain fairly constant for those up to 250,000, but then rise significantly. Opponents of consolidation argue even if money could be saved, consolidation undermines the political identity of the community and reduces political accessibility and accountability by further removing elected representatives from their constituents (Municipal Research News – Summer 2003).
Police/Fire Relationship – Generally, because of the inherent danger and liability associated with police work, police departments must have an appropriate number of supervisory personnel on each tour of duty. For example, the Greenburgh Patrol Schedule calls for three supervisory positions to oversee each uniformed tour of up to 11 officers as well as a number of Community Policing, traffic enforcement and civilian paramedic personnel. Each village department must also have a supervisor(s) on each shift but because their numbers are smaller, the span of control of each supervisor is much less. Looking at this one aspect alone, theoretically, a consolidation of police departments in Greenburgh would result in a reduction in the number of supervisory personnel needed. However, this does not necessarily translate into a reduction in the overall number of personnel. Positions that were once supervisors could be maintained as patrol officer positions actually increasing the number of officers available for routine patrol while reducing Personal Service costs. Presumably, this would also be the case for fire departments.
Within the Town of Greenburgh there are seven separate municipal entities, each providing similar services to a resident population of about 90,000 persons. There are seven police departments each with its own headquarters building and dispatch center that require staffing on a constant basis. In contrast, the City of Yonkers Police Department serves a resident population of about 200,000 utilizing four precincts. Taking into consideration time off, to fill a single position requires 6 people, which means that staffing all seven dispatch centers around the clock with a single person requires a minimum of 42 employees, more if the call volume of a particular jurisdiction, such as the Town, requires additional staff. In a number of village departments this duty is performed by a police officer, which takes him or her away from street duty. The consolidation of dispatch services alone could reduce the number of employees required to perform these duties considerably as well as reduce infrastructure costs while consistently providing residents town wide (including the six incorporated villages) with additional services such as emergency medical dispatch. While the number of positions required to provide dispatch services would be greatly reduced, many of the police officer positions saved could be diverted to street patrol, actually increasing patrol efficiency. This is only a
single example of the impact a partial consolidation could have on policing services. This particular aspect may not be completely applicable to the fire services as they have the opportunity, should they choose to do so, to utilize the County’s 60 Control Center for this purpose.
As far as the Greenburgh fire services are concerned it should be noted that the unions representing firefighters from the three career districts have already merged and that firefighting operations, especially where structure fires are concerned, are seldom undertaken by a single department. In two recent structure fires in Fairview and Greenville, units from all three career services as well as some outside departments responded. So practically, at least from the perspective of a potentially serious fire, the departments already routinely work together.
Fire services provided by the Fairview, Hartsdale and Greenville Fire Districts appear to be disproportionately more costly than similar services provided in other municipalities that utilize career personnel to provide these services. In the examples cited in this report and in every instance studied in preparation of this document, when fire and police services are provided under a single governmental entity, the cost of delivering fire services is always significantly less than that of providing policing services. This is obviously not the case in Greenburgh where fire protection in the unincorporated area is provided using a combination of career services in three separate fire districts as well as volunteer services contracted with neighboring villages to cover seven fire protection districts that collectively service an area policed by a single police department at a significantly lesser cost. While the impact a consolidation of the career fire districts in Greenburgh would have on their efficiency or cost or even the feasibility of such a merger, is presently unknown, in light of the present economic situation, the reasons for this blatant anomaly in fire service costs in Greenburgh should be explored. It seems that a practical means of doing so would be to commission an independent and competent firm to conduct such a study.
Respectfully submitted,
John A. Kapica
Chief of Police


oy said...

when it came to metz, the town was nowhere to be found. now we have the police chief investigating fire district costs.

the kapica report draws no conclusions about consolidation. it has no answers as to why the three career fire departments cost more than comparable career districts.

so to call it a report is really a misnomer. its a compendium of information that requires further study.


kapica report has no insight said...

another glaring omission from the kapica report is whether the 3 fire districts are working together to cut their costs as an alternative to consolidation.

if they are not, they should explore this. its being done successfully on long island.

Anonymous said...

When did Kapica become a fire specialist?

town goof up said...

this was something kolesar might have done well ..... oops they fired him

dumb move town board

Kapica Report Not Objective said...

Kapica's report was not intended to be objective -- to the contrary, he makes clear in the very first sentence that he was asked only to look for "information that might tend to support a consolidation" of the three paid fire districts in unincorporated Greenburgh.

Thus, it's fair to say he overlooked or omitted any data which did NOT tend to support a consolidation.

The most obvious thing he overlooked was the tax rate, which shows that Greenville (Edgemont) pays the LOWEST for its fire protection services at roughly 62.5% of the town tax. Fairview comes in at around 81% of the town tax, while Hartsdale comes in at around 83% of the town tax (although some homes in Hartsdale pay almost as in fire taxes as they pay in town taxes).

What does this mean? Consolidation of the three paid fire district would result in HIGHER taxes for Edgemont taxpayers and LOWER taxes for Fairview and Hartsdale taxpayers.

Instead of pitting one section of unincorporated Greenburgh against another by proposing a consolidation without identifying any tangible savings, why can't Feiner and the town council work on ways to reduce town spending which would result in immediate savings to taxpayers in all of unincorporated Greenburgh?

Anonymous said...

I don't see how a police chief is qualified to issue a report about consolidation of fire districts. Also how much did this report cost the taxpayers? I'm sure Chief Kapica didn't do it on his own time.

hal samis said...


Next step, let's ask the Fire Districts about consolidation for the Police Department, unincorporated and those of the villages.

Ooops! This requires a study of one function at a time and this needs town money to follow grant money.

How about this for consolidation?
A three person Town Board; thereby saving two salaries and benefits.

Ooops again! Since the result is always the same, all we really need is just one vote. Let's save four salaries and benefits.

fat pension said...

Taxpayers are now contributing 7.5 percent of the payroll costs to the fund for most workers, and about 16 percent for police and firefighters, whose pensions are more lucrative than those of other public servants. Contributions from workers and profits from the investments pick up the rest of the tab.DiNapoli said a "ballpark" figure of the higher rate in 2011 is 11 percent for most workers. He'll announce the final figure in September. A similar increase for police and firefighters would drive up the cost to taxpayers to more than 23 percent of what those workers' salaries are.

Anonymous said...

The teaming up of Kapica with the Oh I made a mistake assessor was the wrong move.

The fire dept has qualified men to take care of emergencies this function should be eliminated by the police.

We in Edgemont pay toward our fire dept.One fire house.
Hartsdale One fire house
Fairview Two fire houses.
How much territory does each house cover.

Consolidation is a no no. We are well satisfied the way our fire dept answers calls and their expertise in handling any emergency.

Leave us the hell alone.

Anonymous said...

What the heck does Kapica know, and above all the famous assessor.

Kapica will be leaving and will leave many holding the bag.
He doesn't give a damn as to what his reports say.
The assessor that's another story she should have been let go some time ago.
Whats the story here Paul why have you kept her on????????

Anonymous said...

The problem is that in our little town we pay way more for fire protection than in larger cities like white plains and new rochelle!

Anonymous said...

Anon at 5:28's statement is highly misleading. First of all, one of the reasons unincorporated Greenburgh pays more for fire protection than the Cities of White Plains and New Rochelle do is that unincorporated Greenburgh covers more than 19 square miles, while White Plains and New Rochelle covers 10 and 13 square miles respectively. Secondly, Edgemont pays much less for fire protection than either Hartsdale or Fairview do. Therefore, lumping the three fire districts together, and comparing them to the costs in White Plains and New Rochelle, makes for an unfair comparison.

Anonymous said...

5:05pm Hartsdale has 2 firehouses. This is because Fairview and Hartsdale cover more area than Greenville does

Anonymous said...

Kapica has been trying to take over the fire dept's for years!! that's why he has 10 police officers train on the tech rescue team with the 3 fire depts every mounth a major duplication of service. he also has 2 police officers going to the hospital on ems calls.
makes no sense!

Anonymous said...

Feiner is playing three card monte with this report. He wants you to be "concerned" about the costs of our fire districts so he can hise his own problems: Fortress Bible, Dromore Road, CSEA, West Hab, West Help, Sewer Districts etc.

11:01 is someone with knowledge. It is KAPICA'S TACTICS that are costing taxpayers plenty!

Our assessor should be more concerned with her 2.4 million dollar mistake on STAR taxes, her ignoring the recommendations of the State Comptroller on sewer district issues. It is the ASSESSOR who has cost us taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars.

What does Paul do? He teams up Kapica and McCarthy! Our own version of the dynamic duo. How can we possibly trust anything that those two come up with?

Anonymous said...

Do the people on this blog realize that BUYING of votes that goes on with respect to the Villages and the Fire Service? Here is how it works: The Villages are PAID to cover "fire protectio districts." They are paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to cover these areas. This is a way the politicians at Town Hall gain the favor of the villages. These fire protection areas are far better suited to be under the control of the fire districts. The fire districts would have far LOWER taxes if they were able to bid on these services. The Town allows no bidding. It just awards these no bid contracts to Ardsley, Hastings and Elmsford. OUR taxpayer dollars are funding Village Fire Departments!!!!!!

anti feiner zealots need help said...

the last post is incredibly misleading

the village fire departments provide fire protection to large segments of unincorporated greenburgh. thats why they get paid. notice the poster did not disclose any cost comparison between volunteer fire districts found in villages that serve unincorporated greenburgh and the career non-volunteer fire dpeartments found in hartsdale, edgemont and fairview.

btw, village fire departments have covered unincorporated areas for many decades. its not something new that was cooked up by the current town board. some of these anti-feiner people need to get their facts straight.

rye brook tried private services for fire protection until a devastating fire showed how thinly staffed and unprepared the private company was. guess what, they now contract with the portchester for fire protection services.

Anonymous said...

Why should Village departments cover ANY PART of unincorporated? Just because some politicians thought of this scam years ago does not make it right. It is another way that the Villages are screwing unincorporated.

Anonymous said...

This may be worthwhile to study. However, it is not a matter for town management to be occupied with. Town management has its own responsibilities to handle, many which remain sorely neglected. Please work on getting basic township matters under control first. Thank you.

deluded said...

thats what you call folks who think it costs nothing to create, equip and staff fire stations in parts of unincorporated greenburgh served by village fire engine companies.

or perhaps these are the same people backing village basher pat weems of freeview

Anonymous said...

Why does Greenville pay more taxes than the other two fire districts since they have one fire house where as the other two districts have two??????????

Edgemont pays less said...

Greenville (Edgemont) does not pay more in fire taxes than the other two fire districts. We pay less. Edgemont fire taxes are around 62% of town taxes; Fairview fire taxes are around 82% of town taxes; and Hartsdale fire taxes are around 83% of town taxes, although in some cases Hartsdale fire taxes are the same as town taxes.

The Edgemont school district and fire districts have both held on the line on taxes. The Town of Greenburgh has not. Edgemont has good reason to oppose any effort at consolidation which would place control over fire protection and taxes in the hands of the Town.

yeah said...

last i checked edgemont was part of the town.

and edgemont's town taxes are far higher than the rest of unincorporated greenburgh so 62% is not small potatoes.

Anonymous said...

Kolesar how about giving us your input in what has been reported by the chief who dreams of being a fireman and an assessor who can't send out correct tax information but above all refuses to do her job But believe it or not had the time to sit down with Kapica to put this report together.
She must be playing favorites again.

Leave Edgemont Out of This said...

Edgemont pays higher town taxes than the rest of unincorporated Greenburgh because the average assessed value of a home in Edgemont is about double that of the average in the rest of unincorporated Greenburgh.

That said -- that's precisely the reason why consolidation is so dangerous to Edgemont taxpayers. It would result in Edgemont subsidizing the rest of the unincorporated area, it would not result in any tangible savings that anyone can demonstrate, and it would take management of Edgemont's fire district out of the hands of elected Edgemont residents and substitute in its place control by Greenburgh's town board.

Can't imagine why anyone in Edgemont would want that.

curious said...

state law appears to say that towns cannot provide fire protection

if the three career fire depts in greenburgh consolidated how would they be under the rule of town hall as opposed to elected fire commissioners?

right now all three greenburgh fire depts are under the same union.

certainly if they worked together on buying and maintenance and other things savings would result- this has been the case in long island.

is town hall control a red herring?

Anonymous said...

I think most posters are missing the point. The point is that there is a considerable waste of tax payer dollars (our money). Doesn't it anger you when you read the overall allocation of moneya nd how much of that is earmarked and speant on saleries-regardless of what fire district you fall into. Take the saleries a,d divide them by how many firefighters there are and the avergae salary is out of this world. Yes, we need firefighters, but at what cost? I applaud the study that the chief did- he was aked to do a job and did it. The fire districts are out of control- will this be printed in the journal news with saleries included in the data central section? How many fires do the houses respond to? If it wasn't for kapicas ems policies, the houses would never leave their confines, actually, hartsdale never leaves for ems dates. Bottom line the money spent for this fire protection- when there are hardley any fires is crazy!!

Hal, instead of bashing the person who wrote the study, how bout go after the districts spending the money foolishly-OUR MONEY.

2000 calls a year said...

The Fairview Fire Department is a combination fire and rescue department comprised of 44 career members and 8 volunteers members. The Department responds to approximately 2000 calls per year. We provide fire suppression, inspect public occupancies, and respond to Hazardous Material Incidents. The Department provides EMT-B (defibrillator certified) medical services with Greenburgh Police Department. The Fairview Fire Department and Greenburgh Police Department jointly serve on the Greenburgh Technical Rescue Team. and responds to high-risk rescue operations. The Fire Department has an extensive fire prevention program. We maintain and operate the Fire Safe House, which was donated by the Westchester Firefighter Burn Foundation, and fire prevention puppets donated by The Niles Agency. Our most recent fire prevention tools is a robotized Sparky donated by Westchester BMW. All of our fire prevention efforts are designed to teach children (and adults) about fire safety.

Anonymous said...

Wake up and smell the smoke, then wait for your police to respond. Have someone in your home need EMS help and see how long it takes the police to show up--usually minutes after the Fire District--important minutes--are you dead or alive. Greeenville response time is less than 4 minutes-police 10 minutes--if they are not in another sector. Edgmont this is important--the fire district responds quickly at no additional cost to you. They are there to help no matter what time of day or night, don't be fooled by all this nonsense.

Anonymous said...

The previous posters are correct the fire dept. responds quickly even to calls that should be handled by the police and EMT's. They will call the fire dept. for lift assists because they are too lazy to lift the people.

Anonymous said...

Let's let the 3 fire district chiefs do a report on the police department.

Anonymous said...

Don't go that route. We would be surprised to the findings in our police dept.

We all know how good the police are in coverups.
If the department is investigated do you have any idea of how many police would be fired.

The firemaen can always hold their heads high as far as their honesty and the way they handle their job.
They have the best EMt's in this town but our dear supervisor will never admit it because he would never hurt his chiefs feelings.
Keep up the good work fellow fire fighters. We need you more than the police.
We know where you are but we can never find a police person when we need one.

Anonymous said...

I have a question for Mr. Feiner. When Chief Kapica retires are you going to hire him back as a consultant?

Anonymous said...

A blogger asked how consolidation of the fire districts would result in control by the Town of Greenburgh.The answer is that, under the new law, the combined fire district would be run by fire commissioners appointed by the Town Board.

Anonymous said...

the problem is that the cops are way under paid

Anonymous said...

6:32 -- do you have any proof that the incompentent Town Council would control a consolidated Fire District? That they would be able to institute no-show jobs, no-bid contracts, put in people with no background, no resumes?

Anonymous said...

paul - you are a big censoring baby.

shame on you.

Anonymous said...


What about the ever expanding group of junked trucks in the Royal Palace parking lot?????

Show the people in Hartsdale that you care. Send someone over there to issue tickets and clean up the lot. Post updates on the blog.

about hartsdale said...

where is that?

has anyone ever heard diana juettner mention the word hartsdale?

oh yes, hartsdale, where the flood took place in the downtown area....

Anonymous said...

MORE garbage from the TOWN administration...How much money was spent on this useless and meritless information??? I have an idea...Let Chief Kapica report on a study of the police protection in the town. Especially us in Edgemont. He notes to well over 100 employees on payroll for the POLICE..Where are they all PAUL? We typically see 1 or 2 radomly in Edgemont. What about the Ambulance service??? What does that cost us??? I was told a few interesting stories recently about the ambulance: 1. An ambulance showed up to a call without Medical people on it. (this was per the cop)..What is this? 2. I heard of an incident where a cop had to drive back to the POLICE station to get an ambulance...What are we paying for??? Maybe the town should give the ambulances to the Fire Departments???
Lastly.."savings are realized through the elimination of duplicitous resources thereby streamlining the operation of the entity and creating an economy of scale" With this in mind, maybe is the Police Department did POLICE work only their might be more room to solve crime
Just my $0.02

Anonymous said...

Don't forget. Paul's pet pals (the Police) received a 4.1% increase in salary this year. Everyone else received ZERO!!!!!!!!!!!! Way to keep all your employees happy, Mr. Feiner.

Anonymous said...

the town has little control over police salaries-- if salaries are not negotiated an arbitration panel makes the decision. This is why salaries of police are always higher than those of other employees.

Anonymous said...

4:28 that's BULL Crap.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

kolosar would have given us a shorter report and to the point without the aid of a half brain assessor.
Yes Paul you did cut your nose to spite your face. Delete this now because it doesn't make a difference.
The people read the first one.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Kapica is wasting money by having police officers staff the boat on Hudson River. It's almost as bad
as, having police paramedics. when he cleans up the PD than he could worry about the fire dept's. I still can't believe the supervisor had him do this useless study

Anonymous said...

A senior citizen tripped on the sidewalk on East Hartsdale Avenue yesterday. The Hartsdale Fire Department arrived within 5 minutes of calling 911. The police paramedic arrived 25 minutes later. I think Kapica should study his own department and leave the fire departments alone.

Anonymous said...

How much would you want to be paid if you had to run into a burning building? They deserve their salaries.

Anonymous said...

PORT CHESTER - Former elected officials from the village who served 10 or more years will no longer be receiving lifetime health benefits.The village board has eliminated health insurance for eight former trustees, a move that will save the village $70,000 a year and up to $1.8 million in future payments, the board said.

Anonymous said...

The Best part of the entire comparison of apples (police services) and oranges (fire services) is the missing information in the report. Where are the numbers for the police department regarding the maintenance of vehicles, equipment, health insurance, workman's comp., liability insurance, uniforms, fuel, radios, etc.? The reason is that these expenses are carried on other lines of the general budget and not part of the police budget, yet the fire districts have those expenses included in their budgets. Get real Mr. Finer and stop playing around, utilizing the media to insight conflict.