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Turning The Financial Flame Down

Fire department proposal

considerably less than 2013-14

When marching orders were given to the Village of Garden City’s various civil service divisions to cut expenses, the fire department complied to the tune of slightly more than a quarter million dollars. During a Tuesday evening village board meeting, Fire Chief William Castoro announced a proposed budget of personnel services of $2.3 million this year, a significant reduction from last year’s adopted budget of $2.6 million.

Castoro said the department is forecasting to spend $2.4 million this year, an estimated $49,000 decrease, due to two unexpected retirements this year, and the reason for a reduction in personnel services.

The fire department’s overtime budget last year was $189,969, which Castoro said the department plans to spend “all of that, but keeping it a little bit under­—we’ve implemented changes in staffing while people are on vacation or out sick for the slower times of the fire department.”  The proposed overtime budget for next year is $120,000—a $69,969 decrease.

Trustee Richard Silver questioned the overtime figured presented, saying, “with the proposed overtime budget being cut by more than one third, I struggle to see how its realistic to expect that seven or eight months into the year.”

Castoro said the department spent $14,236 last month on overtime, and explained how they’ve moved positions around as a cost savings measure.

“For our day-men positions, we can now fill them in at different locations, we’ll have two day-men that we didn’t have all these previous months and fill in when people are on vacation,” Castoro said.

The fire department has also changed its vacation policy, whereby starting in 2014,  personnel decides their vacation time for the entire year. Previously, three people were allowed on vacation every week, and those were all filled overtime—that has now been reduced to two out per week.

Two day-men will fill in for those on vacation, and the department will not pay overtime for them.

Castoro said he feels the overtime budget will reduce by approximately $10,000 per month, however stated “its hard to predict and budget for those out sick or injured, but based on the vacations, sick time, personal time and the coverage we now have that we didn’t have these prior months, we feel we can achieve those savings.”

Deputy Mayor Nicholas Episcopla questioned Castoro on unused contract days off, stating that in 2013-13, $66k was spent, which he said was “well under” the $95k budget. Comparing those numbers to the last year’s $79k budget, Episcopla said “we’re down to about $38k in actual estimated expenses, but this year’s budget we’re budgeting $65k.”

Castoro said that per union contract, each fire fighter gets 96 hours of sick time, and should they not use those hours, they can be diverted to personal time.  

“Fire fighters then have the option to get paid for their personal time at the end of the year, or they can bank it towards retirement,” Castoro said.  “We basically survey them, and our numbers are budgeted to pay everyone.”

Upon questioning by Trustee Robert Bolebruch on the ordering of fire department items, Castoro said that “originally, we were asked to put in a $20,000 contingency in the budget for large items that break throughout the year, such as boilers and garage doors, and recently, we had to have a roof replaced.”

We had spent over $10,000 on garage doors. We actually put into the capital, put it’s not pertaining to repair. So we have a line item for maintenance of plant for large items,” Castoro added.

Castoro said the fire department estimates spending $44k this year on gas and diesel fuel, and looking to budget $49,750 for next year.

“Every year, its one of those categories that we tend to uncontrollably go over,” Castoro said.  “We seem to always have to transfer money to and under-budget, so we’re trying to correct that this year.”

On fire department vehicle repairs, Castoro said they have begun outsourcing to a private company instead of utilizing Garden City’s Public Works, saying, “the fire truck is very technical,” explaining that computer service work is needed.  Public works still handles small level repairs for the fire department vehicles.

According to Trustee Donnelly, $2,000 was previously allocated to public works on a monthly basis.

New fire department trucks have a five-year bumper-to-bumper warranty, where previous trucks had a one-year bumper-to-bumper warranty.  Castoro mentioned that the fire department keeps their vehicles for “a very long time,” stating that all fire engines are at least 20 years, and ladder trucks are 25 years older or more.

“The downside to that is that as the fleet ages, we spend a lot of money on maintenance,” Castoro said.                    

News

The Village of Garden City and the Garden City Public Library have been working together to repair the problems with the library’s elevator and will hopefully have it up and running in approximately three to four weeks.

It has been a difficult time for seniors, the physically challenged and a tremendous inconvenience for the public in general without an elevator running in the library. However the village and library both agreed that in its present condition the elevator was not safe for people to use.

Residents needed to run

The Garden City East Nominating Committee is seeking residents of the East who are interested in being interviewed for the positions of village mayor, village trustee and school board trustee. These positions are subject to election by all village residents. The village mayoral and trustee terms are for two years beginning on April 6, 2015 and the school board trustee term is for three years beginning on July 1, 2015.

Any resident of the East who is interested in being considered for one of these positions must submit a letter of intent and a resume. This submission should note the position being sought; include their name, contact information, a statement explaining their reason for interest in the position, a summary of their professional background and other qualifications, including, although not required, current or prior involvement in village or school board positions or initiatives.


Sports

High School Jazz Class Added To Dance Conservatory

Dance Conservatory Director Felicia Lovaglio has decided to add a jazz class for students in 9th through 12th grades who are residents of the Incorporated Village of Garden City. This 55-minute class will be held on Saturdays at 4 p.m. beginning on Saturday, Nov. 8. The cost of this 20-week class will be $200. Preregistration is necessary by visiting the recreation and parks office at 108 Rockaway Ave.

Adult Dance Performance Group Now Registering

The recreation and parks department offers an adult dance group that works on jazz and contemporary moves and leads up to a performance in a Dance Company Showcase. Whether you are a beginner dance student or someone who danced as a child and would like to try again, this program will help you achieve your goals. Classes will be held on Saturday mornings beginning Saturday, Nov. 8. Each class is 55 minutes long and the session will run through May. The cost of this program will be $220.  

Reminder

With the fall sports season upon us, the department of recreation and parks would like to remind all residents that pets are not allowed in any neighborhood parks, Community Park, or St. Paul’s fields. Non compliance with this rule will result in the issuance of appearance tickets.

Register For The Online Registration Option

Garden City’s Department of Recreation and Parks will offer the option of online registration with credit card payment beginning with its winter programs in early December.

In order for a family to use the online registration option, the family will first need to visit the recreation and parks office at 108 Rockaway Ave. to verify residency and their family information and receive their password.  A list of instructions as to how to use the website will be included.


Calendar

 Murder, Madness & Poe

Thursday, October 30

Marvelous Movie Matinée

Monday, November 3

Manhasset Comes To Garden City

Through November 25



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