Residents failed to vote in a Tri-Harbor Ambulance District election that included a referendum to increase retirement benefits for volunteer first responders. Newsday TV's Steve Langford reports.  Credit: Kendall Rodriguez

What if they held an election, and no one showed up?

That’s what Brookhaven Town officials said happened Tuesday when not a single voter turned out for a Tri-Harbor Ambulance District referendum on changes to volunteers’ retirement plans.

Final tallies released Wednesday by the town show the vote was 0-0 in the North Shore district, also known as Port Jefferson EMS. Town officials, who conducted the vote in Tri-Harbor and seven other Brookhaven ambulance districts, were trying to decide what to do next.

“I would think that a zero-zero [result] would be construed as a tie and there would have to be a revote,” Councilman Dan Panico told Newsday on Wednesday. He added the tally indicates the vote was insufficiently advertised.

Officials in the Tri-Harbor district did not respond to requests for comment. Tri-Harbor serves Mount Sinai, Port Jefferson and Belle Terre, which collectively have about 20,300 residents. 

The ambulance districts asked voters to approve lowering the volunteer retirement age from 65 to 60, and boosting monthly retirement stipends by 50%, from $20 per month to $30 per month for each year of service. The changes would take effect Jan. 1, 2023.

The other seven districts approved the changes, mostly with what appeared to be low turnout — though not any no-shows like in Tri-Harbor.

The votes were 22-0 in East Moriches; 11-2 in Manorville; 32-0 in Mastic; 22-0 in Mastic Beach; 28-2 in Medford; 12-1 in Shirley; and 243-102 in South Country.

Gregory Miglino, chief of the South Country Ambulance Company, said he was pleased with both the vote outcome and what he called “an amazing turnout.”

“Usually for votes like this, 30 or 40 people show up,” he said.

Miglino said he could not explain the high turnout for the vote, which he said the district didn’t publicize.

Panico blamed low turnouts in most districts on poor publicity by ambulance officials, adding that Tri-Harbor was evidence “that a better job needs to be done.”

Civic leaders in Medford, East Moriches and other communities told Newsday before the votes that they were not aware of the elections. Ambulance district websites reviewed by Newsday had no information about the elections, either before or after the votes.

“The ambulance people who are volunteers [are people whom] the community overwhelmingly support,” Panico said. “To me, this is something that the districts would want to advertise.”

East Moriches, Manorville, Mastic, Mastic Beach, Medford and Shirley officials declined to comment or did not return requests for comment. 

Officials said the lower retirement age and enhanced benefits would help attract and retain volunteers. The increased retirement payouts would be funded by fees charged to people who use ambulance services, Panico said.

What if they held an election, and no one showed up?

That’s what Brookhaven Town officials said happened Tuesday when not a single voter turned out for a Tri-Harbor Ambulance District referendum on changes to volunteers’ retirement plans.

Final tallies released Wednesday by the town show the vote was 0-0 in the North Shore district, also known as Port Jefferson EMS. Town officials, who conducted the vote in Tri-Harbor and seven other Brookhaven ambulance districts, were trying to decide what to do next.

“I would think that a zero-zero [result] would be construed as a tie and there would have to be a revote,” Councilman Dan Panico told Newsday on Wednesday. He added the tally indicates the vote was insufficiently advertised.

Officials in the Tri-Harbor district did not respond to requests for comment. Tri-Harbor serves Mount Sinai, Port Jefferson and Belle Terre, which collectively have about 20,300 residents. 

The ambulance districts asked voters to approve lowering the volunteer retirement age from 65 to 60, and boosting monthly retirement stipends by 50%, from $20 per month to $30 per month for each year of service. The changes would take effect Jan. 1, 2023.

The other seven districts approved the changes, mostly with what appeared to be low turnout — though not any no-shows like in Tri-Harbor.

The votes were 22-0 in East Moriches; 11-2 in Manorville; 32-0 in Mastic; 22-0 in Mastic Beach; 28-2 in Medford; 12-1 in Shirley; and 243-102 in South Country.

Gregory Miglino, chief of the South Country Ambulance Company, said he was pleased with both the vote outcome and what he called “an amazing turnout.”

“Usually for votes like this, 30 or 40 people show up,” he said.

Miglino said he could not explain the high turnout for the vote, which he said the district didn’t publicize.

Panico blamed low turnouts in most districts on poor publicity by ambulance officials, adding that Tri-Harbor was evidence “that a better job needs to be done.”

Civic leaders in Medford, East Moriches and other communities told Newsday before the votes that they were not aware of the elections. Ambulance district websites reviewed by Newsday had no information about the elections, either before or after the votes.

“The ambulance people who are volunteers [are people whom] the community overwhelmingly support,” Panico said. “To me, this is something that the districts would want to advertise.”

East Moriches, Manorville, Mastic, Mastic Beach, Medford and Shirley officials declined to comment or did not return requests for comment. 

Officials said the lower retirement age and enhanced benefits would help attract and retain volunteers. The increased retirement payouts would be funded by fees charged to people who use ambulance services, Panico said.

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