BloggersDenise M. Bonilla Sophia Chang Tara Conry Carl Corry Erin Geismar Scott Eidler Mackenzie Issler Carl MacGowan Deborah S. Morris Amy Onorato Ted Phillips David Reich-Hale Candice Ruud Nicholas Spangler Joshua Stewart
Roundup: Nassau Community College continues firefighter scholarship program
Nassau Community College plans to use $400,000 from its fund reserves to continue a program that provides tuition reimbursement to volunteer county firefighters, officials announced Tuesday.
A Federal Emergency Management Agency grant to pay for the Volunteer Firefighter Recruitment and Retention Scholarship Program expired last year. The college and the county combined to fill in the gap last year.
NCC spokesman Chuck Cutolo said the school will pay for about 200 scholarships for volunteer firefighters for the 2014-2015 academic year.
“Encouraging increased participation by firefighters and EMS providers in the volunteer fire services in Nassau County through assisting students in paying for their education is a plan that’s a property protector, a lifesaver and a dream maker,” said Kenneth Saunders, acting NCC president.
In exchange for the tuition reimbursement, students must maintain their volunteer activity while in school. They must also commit to remain a volunteer firefighter for at least one year for each year of scholarship they received.
Last year, Nassau offset the cost for the program by providing security-related improvements at the college. The county and the college are in discussion for a similar “in-kind contribution” to offset the program expense this year, Cutolo said.
— ROBERT BRODSKY
Village credit rating improves slightly
The Village of Westbury has received an upgrade one notch from AA to AA+ to its bond rating by Standard & Poor’s credit rating agency.
Analysts wrote, “Budgetary flexibility is very strong with available reserves of more than 20 percent of expenditures for the past three fiscal years and no plans to spend them down significantly.”
The agency also noted the village is expecting a surplus for the 2014 fiscal year.
The agency wrote “overall budgetary performance has been strong,” citing a general fund operating surplus of $462,000, or 6.2 percent of total governmental funds expenditures.
Analysts cited “conservative budgeting,” and property taxes that generate 85 percent of general fund revenue, “which we believe provides revenue stability,” creditors said.
Analysts wrote a lower rating could occur if “reserves were to decrease significantly or if operating performance were to deteriorate significantly.”
Mayor Peter Cavallaro said in a news release, “The upgrade by S&P in our credit rating in a challenging economic environment is especially meaningful.”
The current $1.5 million bond offering is expected to replace debt that has been paid off, village officials said. The funds are for an aggressive road resurfacing program and repairs and maintenance work at the Village Hall, officials said.
— SCOTT EIDLER
Water quality gets high marks in report
Long Beach has been ranked among the top beaches in the country, and the only one listed in New York, by the National Resources Defense Council for ocean water quality during the past five years.
The NRDC tests water samples annually and found that Long Beach was one of 35 beaches nationally that has met 98 percent of national water benchmarks during the past five years.
The report states that Long Beach City Beach has had zero percent of samples exceeding the national standards from 2009 to 2013.
No New York beaches were included on the NRDC’s list of repeat offenders of beaches with contaminated water samples of more than 25 percent during the five-year span.
In 2013, Lido Beach, Point Lookout and Atlantic Beach also tested for zero percent of contaminated samples beyond the EPA’s national standard.
Last year, Jones Beach State Park water tested at 8 percent while Zach’s Bay tested at 21 percent of contaminated water.
The entire report can be viewed at nrdc.org/beaches.
— JOHN ASBURY
Mayor is new head of officials association
Westbury Mayor Peter Cavallaro has been sworn in as the president of the Nassau County Village Officials Association.
Cavallaro, 52, replaced East Williston Mayor David E. Tanner. The coalition is charged with advocating for Nassau’s 64 incorporated villages. The term of president is one year.
Cavallaro has served with the village for 27 years, holding roles as planning board member and trustee. He has been the mayor since 2009.
“The Village Officials Association is important; it gives the villages the ability to go and talk to the legislators in unison,” he said in an interview.
Cavallaro said he would advocate for “mandate relief,” citing “the constant barrage from Albany, Washington, and from mandates that are unfunded.”
“We want to try to get more infrastructure investments from the state, for the roads,” he said.
A state mandate requiring the replacement of lever machines with computerized voting systems could have severe repercussions for villages, he said.
“More resources need to be dedicated to assist local municipalities,” he said.
— SCOTT EIDLER
Assisted-living site misses payment
The nonprofit owner of the Regency assisted-living residence in Glen Cove did not make a payment on bonds due July 1, according to a financial disclosure posted on the same day.
“There are insufficient funds to make a payment for the bond maturing on July 1, 2014 ... to the holders of the bonds,” the disclosure notice stated. “Therefore, no payment will be made as of that debt service payment date for [the bonds].”
Norman Gold, president of National Healthplex Inc., which owns the Regency, said this nonpayment was expected under an agreement with the bondholder.
“We’ve been restructuring it,” Gold said.
The disclosure notice refers to one tranche of bonds issued with a principal of $1 million as part of the financing costs for the building in 1992 by the Glen Cove Industrial Development Agency. The disclosure also said that interest payments were made on some other obligations.
Last year, the IDA awarded National Healthplex a new payment in lieu of taxes agreement for 35 years as it builds an Alzheimer’s wing.
“We’re working through the deal with the bond holder so we can finance all this new stuff,” Gold said.
IDA executive director Barbara Peebles, who also serves as Glen Cove deputy mayor, said she has asked the agency's attorney to get additional information about the bonds from the Regency.
— TED PHILLIPS
Volunteers sought for beautification
The Village of East Williston is looking for more residents to volunteer for its Beautification Committee to help maintain and improve plantings and other greenery throughout the community.
Committee members do plantings, weeding and decorate village grounds and buildings when public works employees are handling other tasks.
“The public works employees are busy cutting lawns, planting trees and doing meter readings,” Mayor David E. Tanner said. “They [the committee members] do the types of embellishments that are beyond the expectations of the three-person public works department. We’re trying to keep costs down.”
Tanner said there has been some recent turnover on the committee and replacements are needed.
“In addition to gardening, committee members put flags up during the (patriotic) holidays, which they did for Memorial Day and ... the Fourth of July,” Tanner said. “They’ll also be decorating village hall for Christmas.”
Some of the plantings done by the committee are placed at the four entrances to the village — East Williston Avenue near the railroad tracks, the east end of Williston Avenue, North Rosyln Road and Sagamore Avenue.
Tanner said committee members are also involved in projects with local high school students on occasions such as Earth Day.
“It’s a way of getting the kids to be a little more aware of their environment and get them familiar with public service,” Tanner said.
Gardening knowledge is not a requirement for committee membership but green thumbs will be appreciated.
If you have questions or would like additional information, call village hall at 516-746-0782 or email email@example.com.
— LISA IRIZARRY