It is with grave concern for the safety of our village residents, local business owners, their employees and that of our firefighters here in Garden City that I feel compelled to write this letter.

Due to the current financial crisis, the village board has been working diligently to provide the residents and businesses of Garden City with a fair and comprehensive budget for the upcoming fiscal year. And for that we should all be most grateful.

However, the tentative budget includes cuts that will severely impact the Fire Department and the vital services we provide. As a direct result of these cuts, there is a substantial risk that Fire Department emergency response will be reduced and delayed. As you know, the sufficient and timely response of this emergency service is vital to the safety and well-being of us all. As one can imagine and statistics prove, the incidence of crime and arson increase during times of economic difficulty. As such, maintaining firefighting capabilities now is especially important.

The original proposed 2009-10 budget (prior to these cuts) as submitted by Captain Frank, department head of the Fire Department, and endorsed by the village administrator, was already 7.75 percent less than last year's budget. During budget study sessions this proposed budget was slashed even further to a level of 12.14 percent lower than last year. This further reduction will result in the reduction of on duty fire personnel thereby reducing and delaying fire apparatus response. To a typical household, these additional cuts translate to an annual savings of only $27 or the equivalent of 7 cents per day.

When it was learned that the village board was considering a charge for use of the athletic fields, as a way to increase revenue, a great number of people showed up at the very next budget meeting to express their concerns and outrage at this new fee. The village board heard them and as such the "athletic field user fee" was not included in the budget. However, very few were present for the discussions at this and various other meetings regarding Fire Department cuts. One can only assume that most residents are unaware of these cuts and the impact they will have.

One of the major benefits of owning a home or operating a business in Garden City is the level of professional services that are provided here. While there is no doubt that some cuts are prudent and necessary, it is imperative that we restore the cuts that will most assuredly impact fire safety.

If you are a resident, business owner or an employee of a business here in Garden City, and this is of concern to you, I respectfully and fervently ask that you contact current Mayor Peter Bee and Mayor-elect Robert Rothschild and ask that the village board restore the funds necessary for the Fire Department to maintain the level of emergency service you deserve. You may also wish to attend the upcoming public hearing on the tentative budget scheduled for Monday, April 6, at 8 p.m. in the Village Board Room.

Letters to Mayor Bee and Mayor-Elect Rothschild may be mailed to:

Village of Garden City

351 Stewart Ave

Garden City, NY 11530

Should one wish to contact me for additional information, please email me at lmira@optonline.net.

Lou Mira, Lieutenant

IAFF Local 1588

Garden City Fire Department

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