Plaza board OKs Vigilant contract

Jessica Ablamsky

Village of Great Neck Plaza trustees approved Vigilant Fire Company’s 2011 contract Oct. 19, after the volunteer fire company fulfilled a promise to pass a 2012 budget with no increase.

“We’re all under this 2 percent tax cap,” said Village of Great Neck Plaza Mayor Jean Celender. “We’re all obligated to find tax saving measures. We’re partners in this.”

The issue had been continued from Oct. 5.

For Great Neck Plaza, the 2011 budget represents an increase of approximately $54,000, a 6.34 percent rise.

Vigilant Chairman David Weiss previously said the increase was due to the cost of maintaining the ambulance fleet, and purchasing medical supplies, which used to provide for free.

Though Great Neck Plaza’s portion of the 2012 budget will be about $5,000 less than this year, residents might still see an increase next year.

Plaza trustees budgeted for a 5 percent increase in 2011, which leaves the village about $24,000 short.

The money will be charged next year to residents who live north of the Long Island Rail Road. Residents south of the Long Island Rail Road contract with the Manhasset-Lakeville Fire Department.

“Going forward in March, we want to tax them for what we’re short,” Celender said. “We can’t send out a new tax bill for 2011.”

Trustees plan to invite Vigilant Chairman David Weiss to a Great Neck Plaza trustee meeting in the next couple of months.

“It’s good we have dialogue,” Celender said. “It’s good we have discussion.”

Vigilant provides ambulance service to every village north of the Long Island Rail Road tracks, but only provide fire protection to the villages of Great Neck Estates, Great Neck Plaza and Kensington.

The budget has historically been paid by a 70-30 split between fire and ambulance.

Three years ago, Vigilant’s accountant recommended a 62-38 split, which provoked resistance from the villages of Great Neck Estates, Great Neck Plaza and Kensington.

In 2009, every village signed a contract with Vigilant with the understanding that in 2010 the proportion of fire and ambulance would change to 62-38. The modification would have cost the northern villages – those without fire protection – more for ambulance service.

When the northern villages signed a 2010 contract with the original 70-30 arrangement, Kensington signed reluctantly. Great Neck Plaza refused, while Great Neck Estates signed a 62-38 contract.

Great Neck mayors held a closed meeting mid-June but were not able to agree on a contract. The lack of progress prompted Vigilant officials to send out a contract using the 70-30 split.

The Village of Great Neck Estates approved the 2009, 2010, and 2011 contract at a trustee meeting Oct. 5.

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Jessica Ablamsky

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