Residents who live within the Huntington Community First Aid Squad Inc. taxing district will vote on a Dec. 20 referendum to increase the service contribution given to volunteers by $10 a month.
Town officials said the proposal will boost the pension-like contribution from the current $20 a month to $30 a month as an incentive for volunteer ambulance workers.
“It’s important to support our volunteers and firefighters in the ambulance and rescue squads because they are putting their lives on the line for us in a volunteer position,” town Supervisor Chad Lupinacci said. “This helps with new recruitment, it helps to keep people who are serving the community for the long run because there is an incentive for them after many years of service.”
There are about 275 volunteers in the squad, which covers Huntington, South Huntington and Huntington Station.
The Length of Service Award Program, or LOSAP, is a statewide program to help recruit and keep volunteer firefighters and emergency medical service workers. Volunteers accumulate credits that they are able to receive at a certain age depending on the service and jurisdiction they are in. The minimum service required to start accumulating credits is five years, town officials said, and volunteers can begin collecting the award at 65 years old.
The 2019 cost of funding the Huntington Community program is $432,469. The estimated annual cost would go up to $610,000 based on current volunteer participation levels if voters approve the measure.
Right now eligible volunteers get $240 monthly. The award would go to $360 a month.
The increase would become effective on Jan 1.
Town board member Joan Cergol said she is grateful for the volunteerism and personal sacrifice of squad members.
"A modest increase to their monthly service award benefit is the least we can do to say thank you for a job well done, 365 days a year,” she said. “Now it’s up to the voters to decide.”
Town officials also said receipts from billing patients’ insurance companies could reduce the impact on taxpayers.
Lupinacci said homeowners can check their tax bill to see if they are in the taxing district.
Voting will take place from noon to 9 p.m. on Dec. 20 in Room 114 at Huntington Town Hall, 100 Main St.
Absentee ballots are available at the town clerk’s office in Room 102 of Town Hall or download one at huntingtonny.gov by typing "absentee ballots" in the search bar.