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Long Island

Across Long Island Tuesday voters go to polls for fire commissioners

The Wading River Fire District is among Long

The Wading River Fire District is among Long Island fire districts holding elections on Tuesday. Dec. 6 2016 Credit: Ed Betz

Sarah Armaghan, John Asbury, Valerie Bauman, Denise M. Bonilla, Christine Chung, Stefanie Dazio, Deon J. Hampton, Lisa Irizarry, Deborah S. Morris, David Olson, Ted Phillips, Jean-Paul Salamanca and Nicholas Spangler

Long Islanders will go to the polls Tuesday at their local fire districts to vote on more than two dozen commissioners’ races and propositions authorizing building renovations, equipment purchases and pension eligibility.

There are 35 contested commissioners races — eight in Nassau County and 27 in Suffolk — on Tuesday’s ballots. Commissioners set policies and control fire budgets that total more than $300 million across the Island.

Eleven fire districts — four in Nassau, seven in Suffolk — are offering propositions. In four of the 11, referendums are on the ballot related to the state Length of Service Award Program, or LOSAP, which allows volunteer firefighters to receive pension-style benefits. A similar LOSAP proposition is up for a vote in Lindenhurst Village, which oversees the fire department there.

Among the propositions are a $6.8 million proposal to upgrade firehouses in Wading River, and a $2.3 million plan to purchase and lease communications equipment in Setauket. Hewlett Bay residents will consider whether to authorize the acquisition of three new pumpers through a lease-purchase agreement, and Blue Point voters will decide whether to lease oxygen tanks for $280,000.

Voters in Eatons Neck, Greenlawn, Lindenhurst, Locust Valley and Roosevelt will cast ballots on referendums calling for amending their respective districts’ LOSAP programs.

Nine fire districts did not respond to repeated requests for information: Bellerose Terrace, Meadowmere Park, North Bellmore, Lawrence North, North Merrick, Orient, Southold, Wantagh and West Hempstead.

Among the significant races and propositions:

  • In Gordon Heights, where residents pay among the highest fire district taxes on Long Island, incumbent Commissioner Avery Dean faces challenger Willie Gadson for a five-year term on the board. Gadson, a retired correction officer who lost last year to Chesley Ruffin, is backed by a reform movement that holds a 3-2 majority on the board.
  • Wading River residents will vote on a $6.8 million proposition calling for major upgrades at the district’s two firehouses. Plans call for larger bays for trucks, improved heating and cooling systems, and compliance with the federal Americans With Disabilities Act. The Wading River vote also has three ex-commissioners among the four candidates running for two open seats. One is to fill the seat that became vacant when chairman Tom Lateulere died earlier this year.
  • In Setauket, residents will vote on a proposition granting the district permission to enter into an agreement with Motorola Solutions Inc. to buy and lease $2.3 million worth of communications equipment over 10 years.
  • Blue Point voters will decide whether to lease a self-contained breathing apparatus for $280,000.
  • In Manorville, two propositions ask voters to approve a capital reserve fund to purchase and repair equipment, and establish a reserve fund to construct, renovate and repair buildings.

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