Plaza continues Vigilant hearing

Jessica Ablamsky

Village of Great Neck Plaza trustees continued a public hearing on the 2011 Great Neck Vigilant Fire Company contract to Oct. 19, after a discussion that saw little controversy.

Village of Great Neck Plaza Mayor Jean Celender said the village’s approval is contingent on receiving the volunteer fire and ambulance company’s budget, which is not projected to increase.

“I think it’s reasonable that they are waiting for the next budget to come,” said Vigilant Chairman David Weiss. “For the sake of getting everybody on the same page, it’s not going to hurt anything.”

Weiss said he hopes to pass the Vigilant 2012 budget Oct. 17. Vigilant will run a $185,000 deficit by Dec. 31 unless villages approve the 2011 contract.

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

Celender said trustees budgeted for a 5 percent increase, about $24,000. The village will charge residents the additional money next year, if Vigilant allows the village to pay retroactively.

“We asked them to allow this because this is the only way to assess this,” Celender said.

Weiss said the increase was due to the cost of maintaining the ambulance fleet, and purchasing medical supplies, which had been provided free of charge by the hospital.

Vigilant has been without a full contract since 2009, due to inter-village disagreement.

Volunteers provide 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.

The 2011 contract has not yet been signed by the Plaza and the Village of Kensington.

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Jessica Ablamsky

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