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Firemen Insurance: A Concern

The nation’s new Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) has a provision that could put local fire departments—as well as local governments—at considerable financial risk. Firefighting departments with 50 or more members could be forced to provide health insurance for their volunteer firefighters or else pay substantial fines.

 

“It would really hurt the volunteer fire departments,” said William F. Murray, president of the Volunteer Firefighters Association of Southern New York.

 

The health care law has specific insurance requirements for employers with 50 or more employees. While the U.S. Department of Labor terms these firefighters “volunteers,” the Internal Revenue Service classifies volunteer firefighters as employees.

 

Members of Congress are aware of this issue, though so far, no changes have been made at the federal level.

 

“Volunteer firefighters provide an invaluable service to our communities and save lives. We need to make sure policies aren’t put in place that would be detrimental to fire departments on Long Island and across the nation,” said Rep. Steve Israel (D. 3rd district). “I am reaching out to the IRS to make certain that they take into account the unique situation of volunteer firefighters and ensure that fire departments aren’t saddled with costs they can’t handle.”

 

Local village mayors have written to the congressman and to New York’s U.S. Senators, urging them to intervene on behalf of volunteer fire and EMS organizations and exempt them from the Affordable Care Act. 

 

Farmingdale Mayor Ralph Ekstrand said that if the village is required to pay medical benefits for each member of its volunteer fire department, it would cost somewhere in the vicinity of $1.6 million a year. 

 

“It just can’t happen,” Ekstrand said. “That would be a phenominal tax increase for the people of the village.” 

 

According to Ekstrand, should the provision go into effect in Farmingdale, the village budget would wind up in excess of the state mandated tax levy cap. With the cost of insurance increasing each year, the amount taxpayers would be required to chip would also continue to rise if the provision were to take effect. 

 

Spokesmen from the Vigilant and Manhasset-Lakeville fire departments said that their volunteers are already able to receive health insurance by buying into the New York State plan, with their own personal funds, through the Town of North Hempstead. Additionally,

many volunteer firefighters have health insurance through their employers.

 

— Additional reporting by Daniel Offner


News

Farmingdale residents are being urged to use caution when answering the doorbell due to ongoing concerns of imposters posing as utility workers. On Aug. 19, officials with the South Farmingdale Water District—covering the Farmingdale, Bethpage, Seaford, North Massapequa and Massapequa Park communities—sent out an advisory warning customers not to let anyone into their homes claiming to be a water district employee without first showing photo identification. The advisory was sent as a safety precaution, instructing residents to immediately contact the police if they are suspicious of anyone identifying his or herself as a “water district” employee.

According to the South Farmingdale Water District Commissioners, it is rare for any water district employees to show up at a home or business unannounced in order to read a water meter or confirm a leak, as most, if not all, residential visits are done by appointment.

New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman recently announced that 258 campus police officers at 12 SUNY schools—including SUNY Farmingdale State College—are being armed with naloxone, an extremely effective heroin antidote that can instantly undo the effects of an opioid or heroin overdose.

The antidote, more commonly known as Narcan, will be provided as part of Schneiderman’s Community Overdose Prevention Program, which uses funds seized from drug dealers and other criminals to reimburse local police departments for the cost of naloxone kits.


Sports

It will be difficult to top the exhilaration of being crowned Nassau County Champs, but the 2014 Farmingdale Dalers will begin their defense of the title on Sept. 13 at rival Massapequa—whom they beat to claim the crown.

“The attitude is that we have to prove it again,” said Head Coach Buddy Krumenacker, who has been at the helm since 1993. “But I think we’ll be okay,” he added.

Register now as classes fill up quickly and you don’t want to miss out on the chance to join in trapeze workshops at Eisenhower Park’s I.FLY this fall.

 

“I.FLY was designed to give kids and adults the ability to fulfill their dreams of being in the circus,” says instructor Anthony Rosamilia.  “Flying through the air never gets boring.  At I.FLY, we help people create lifelong memories.” 


Calendar

Board of Education Special Meeting

Wednesday, Aug. 27

Movies on the Green: The Nut Job

Thursday, Aug. 28

Warbirds Legends Weekend

Friday, Aug. 29



Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com

The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
Written by Mike Barry, MFBarry@optonline.net

Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com