Village of North Hills disputes proposed rate increase from Albertson Fire Company

Christian Araos

The Albertson Fire Company is seeking to increase the rate it charges the Village of North Hills for fire protection by more than 20 percent for the coming year, Village of North Hills Mayor Marvin Natiss said Wednesday at the village’s Board of Trustees meeting.

Natiss said the proposed rate hike would increase the cost of fire protection provided by the Albertson Fire Company by  $1,225 to $7,321.16 for the year ending May 31, 2016. North Hills also has an agreement with the Roslyn Fire Department for fire service.

“When I spoke with the fire commissioner, he said, they checked with the Town of North Hempstead and they were basing it on the assessed valuation and the tax records rather than an arms-length negotiation,” Natiss said. “I said all of the other increases have been in the lower range.”

The rate for 2014-15 was $6,096, up 2 percent from the previous year.  

Natiss authorized Village Attorney Richard Nevin to submit a counteroffer to the fire company that would only raise rates by $225.16.

A $225.16 increase would have  still been the largest cost increase since 2012, according to an analysis by the village sent to Blank Slate Media.. 

That year, Albertson raised its rates by almost 4 percent. 

Richard Ockovic, a trustee with the Albertson Fire Company, said the rate increase resulted from a change in the methodology used to calculate its rates.

“Our treasurer went to the Town of North Hempstead and got the assessment values for each of the homes in Albertson,” Ockovic said. “Since we have some homes valued at over $1 million dollars and some that are only $300,000, we needed to come up with a rate system that was fair to all of our residents.”

The contract with the Albertson Fire Company stipulates that the fire company provide service to the Mews Community located off of Searingtown Road. 

A foreclosed home in that development now under contract had a listed price of nearly $700,000. 

Ockovic said the fire company had previously used a rate structure that equally assessed each of the 4,100 homes the company services. He said the decision to switch from a flat system to one based on the assessment values was long overdue. 

The fire company, he said, was willing to be flexible in its negotiations with the village. One compromise Ockovic proposed was to split the rate increase over the next two years.

“When you think about it, the 20 percent increase is not a whole lot since we’re charging them $5,000 for service,” Ockovic said. “We’re confident that they’ll be able to meet us halfway for the next two years.”

North Hills has had agreements with the Roslyn Fire Dept. and the Albertson Fire Company since 2007 when they replaced the Manhasset Lakeville-Fire Department after it  took 35 minutes to respond to a fire in the Summit-High Point complex.

The complex is minutes away from a Roslyn Fire Department firehouse. 

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Christian Araos

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