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After 50 years, Fire Island village to pay for police

The Fire Island Village of Saltaire, filled with million-dollar oceanfront beach homes, for the past 50 years hasn't had to pay for the day-to-day county police services residents receive.

Suffolk County Attorney Christine Malafi on Friday disclosed the half century of nonpayments in a meeting of the county legislature's public safety committee Friday. She said County Executive Steve Levy will present an emergency resolution at the legislative meeting Tuesday to start charging the village for police.

Saltaire is a village of about 400 homes. The year-round population numbered 43 in the 2000 census, although the summer population swells to 2,000 to 3,000.

Malafi said the village would be charged an average of $86.62 per hour when officers are called to respond to 911 calls, or when residents call the department for help or action authorized by village officials.

However, critics say the deal allows the village to cherry pick by paying for service on request. "It doesn't seem fair that the village does not have to pay for having the service available," said Noel DeGerolamo, a police union vice president.

Neither the village nor Levy aides could say how much the new agreement would generate in revenue to the county. Malafi said the county did not seek retroactive payments, and could not say how much the village may have owed for past services.

Mario Posillico, village administrator, said the pact "fairly treats Suffolk County in terms of its responsibility and offers us a degree of police protection we have not had in the past."

The problem dates to 1960 when the Suffolk County Police Department was formed. Saltaire, like East End towns and villages and several other municipalities in Western Suffolk, decided not to join the county police district.

But Saltaire never formed a police department of its own and has relied on the county for police service.

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