We would like to take this space to publicly commend the Manhasset Fire & Water District for its response to the New York State Comptroller's audit.
When we met with the Commission chairperson Robert DeVito, Commissioner James Sharkey and business manager, Charles Stepanek to review the audit, we found them to be extremely straightforward. They were not defensive about the areas of concern and recommendations from Comptroller Tom DiNapoli's office. Having worked diligently to do so, they have so far recouped 95 percent of the funds that were misspent and have changed their procedures to tighten fiscal controls.
We would also like to commend the state comptroller's office for asking the district to come up with its own guidelines and policies for self-governance on topics examined. This is a mature stance giving the parties involved the opportunity to do the right thing.
First, a disclaimer. We, meaning both Wendy Kreitzman and myself, have in past years attended fire district and department installation dinners. On those occasions, we were treated as honored guests and made to feel appreciated for the coverage we gladly give all our firefighters from Manhasset Lakeville, the Vigilants and the Alerts. These dinners are a celebration of the spirit of giving and risking one's all for the community.
They are also a way of saying "thank you" to the people who work with the fire districts and departments throughout the year. We have seen the mayors, town officials, county officials, police chiefs, fire chiefs from neighboring communities, and our representatives in the state legislature at these dinners. Mutual aid and cooperation are the watchwords of the fire departments and the fire district that serve Great Neck residents. It is only fitting that all of these community people come to honor the outstanding work of the firefighters and their leaders and in turn be thanked for their support. The relationship between the fire organizations and the community at large can best be described as symbiotic; they need us and we need them. Coming together at a festive occasion reinforces that commonality.
One of the most endearing traditions of the Manhasset Lakeville dinners has been the special attention lavished on the spouses of the firefighters. The ones who wait at home for the safe return of their loved ones make huge sacrifices in terms of family time and peace of mind. Flowers are always presented to the spouses of the leaders. When we spoke with the Manhasset Lakeville commissioners, we urged them not to eliminate that tradition. Turns out that they have always raised money privately for those extra, thoughtful touches.
We fully support the need for sound fiscal controls and carefully thought out policies as the comptroller's office recommended, but we do not support cutting back on tokens of appreciation that enhance the spirit of giving that is part and parcel of our fire district's and fire department's philosophy.
Let's not lose sight of the big picture. Volunteer firefighters no longer just fight fires. They come out for community emergencies of all kinds, such as popping manhole covers, downed power lines, blackouts, bomb scares and even the irritating false alarms. You name it; they come.
No one, including the Manhasset Lakeville Fire & Water District, supports wastefulness, but we think we speak for the community when we say that we do not begrudge our firefighters a few well-deserved perks.
- Carol Frank