Fairview Fire District Proposed Tax Increase Blamed on Tax Certs

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The Fairview Fire District in Greenburgh recently released its proposed 2013 budget that’s set to go over the 2 percent tax cap and has one local resident claiming he predicted the tax hike two years ago.

At a public hearing last week, the fire district’s board presented next year’s possible budget and laid out where costs are going and the increases expected. In the district’s proposal there would be an increase in property taxes of $554,666 or 4.95 percent, with the bulk of the increase coming from retirement and salary costs.

While many areas of the budget stayed the same or went down, salary costs would increase by $176,259 and retirement costs would shoot up by $327,209.

Fire Chief Anthony Logiudice said equipment was also an emphasis on what the department needed to do their jobs effectively. With a life span on the gear and more expensive equipment, there’s more of a demand to replace equipment.

“There’s a lifespan on our helmet,” Logiudice said. “When I started 31 years ago you could wear your same helmet for 31 years. Now, every ten years you have to get a new helmet, and that’s an expense.”

One resident, Milton Hoffman, wasn’t happy about what he saw in the upcoming budget. Hoffman, along with other residents in the area came up with a report that would apparently result in administrative and benefits savings.

He said the rise in the budget is one that he predicted along with the rest of the Fire Department Consolidation & Government Efficiency Commission (FDCGEC) when they released their report in 2010.

“I’m disappointed that a lot of the suggestions our committee made… were never followed,” Hoffman said at the public hearing. “If some of those were put into effect, we wouldn’t have this big increase today in taxes and in the budget.”

One recommendation Hoffman brought up was for the department to use the 60-Control program, which provides dispatching phone calls for fire department assistance at no cost, rather than Greenburgh, which has its own dispatchers.

Another is the number of conventions Fire Chief Logiudice attends throughout the year. Logiudice countered by saying that not all of the events he attends are conventions and that the ones he does attend are valuable for learning about different techniques and equipment to improve the department.

The overarching theme from the report was a call for partial consolidation of the fire departments in the area.

“You know the report, you’ve gotten the report, you’ve criticized the report,” Hoffman said.

Two other people, who attended also spoke, and complained about the hike in taxes.

Logiudice said that the main reason the budget is set to go above the tax cap is because of the money the district will be forced to pay back to commercial and residential property owners and a declining tax base each year.

With almost 50 percent of the fire district tax exempt, it leads to a heavier burden on a lesser number of taxpayers, Logiudice said in a phone interview days after the hearing.

The town of Greenburgh, which does the taxing for the fire department, pays back the people who put in for a tax break, which will result in the department paying back $400,000 to the town, Logiudice said.

“If we didn’t have to pay the people back taxes, we’d probably be right on target, we’d be under the 2 percent,” Logiudice said.

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