Written by Wendy Kreitzman Friday, 03 January 2014 00:00
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
Friday, 07 March 2014 00:00
On Feb. 27, parents in the Farmingdale, East Meadow, Massapequa and Levittown school districts came together for an informal panel discussion on the New York State Education Department and the implementation of the state Common Core Learning Standards.
Panelists included New York State Assemblyman Thomas McKevitt, Jeanette Deutermann of the Long Island Opt Out Facebook page, and former public school teacher David Greene, who came to the Farmingdale Public Library to talk with local parents about key concerns and questions with the curriculum.
An outspoken parent and founder of the Long Island Opt Out movement, Deutermann delved into some of the factors behind what led to the state’s adoption of the Common Core, and how the state education department cites High School graduation rates as its reasoning behind the curriculum.
Thursday, 06 March 2014 00:00
With the quest to craft the Farmingdale Schools’ 2014-2015 spending plan underway, the Board of Education met on Feb. 26 to discuss the financial well-being of the District; a topic that the support—or lack thereof—from New York State will have a very direct impact upon.
Superintendent of Schools John Lorentz discussed how New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed budget for the 2014-2015 fiscal year is slated to include additional financial support for school districts; however, Lorentz said the increase in aid is still far short of what Farmingdale needs to ensure its standards of learning are kept intact going forward.
Thursday, 06 March 2014 00:00
On an uncharacteristically beautiful, Feb. 23, the local running community responded in a big way. Between 450 and 500 people showed up at the Runner’s Edge in Farmingdale for the annual Winter Fun Run co-sponsored by the Runner’s Edge and the Greater Long Island Running Club.
Thursday, 27 February 2014 00:00
Oyster Bay Town Councilman Anthony D. Macagnone (center) recently attended the Farmingdale Firehawks Football Luncheon at Carlyle On The Green in Farmingdale. The Farmingdale Hawks players ages 5 to 13, along with their coaches, parents and team moms all attended the luncheon to show their support and receive annual awards. Pictured behind the players from left to right are Board Members Bob McCormic and Tim Greco, Village Trustee Patricia A. Christainsen, Village Trustee Cheryl Parisi, Nassau County Legislator Michael Venditto, President Bob Dentato, Councilman Macagnone, Vice President Regina Mott, and Board Members Mike Ippolitti, Andrew Frigerio, and Steve Licata.
— Submitted by The Town of Oyster Bay