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Setauket Fire District could expand to include Old Field

The Setauket Fire Department in Setauket is shown

The Setauket Fire Department in Setauket is shown on Jan. 13, 2015. Credit: Ian J. Stark

The tiny Village of Old Field may formally join the Setauket Fire District if state lawmakers approve a plan to extend the district’s boundaries.

Residents of Old Field, which has contracted for fire protection from the Setauket district for several decades, would pay fire taxes directly to the district and be eligible to vote in district elections if the boundaries are extended.

Old Field Mayor Michael Levine said village officials favor the change because Setauket officials have asked the village to pay more for fire services. Levine said the current five-year contract, which expires in December, calls for the village to pay Setauket $383,000 annually. That cost could go up “significantly more” next year if the village and fire district agree on a new contract, Levine added.

The mayor said the increased cost would be similar to fees paid by other municipalities that contract with Setauket.

“If we’re going to pay what everybody else pays, it’s only right that we have a say in the way the Setauket Fire District is run,” Levine said in an interview.

Changing Setauket’s boundaries requires state enabling legislation. The Brookhaven Town Board last week approved a resolution formally asking the state to pass such legislation.

It is unclear when, or if, the State Legislature will vote on the proposal.

Setauket fire district manager David Sterne said discussions to add Old Field to the district were “very preliminary.”

“The Setauket Fire District has provided, and will continue to provide, fire protection to the village of Old Field,” he said.

Levine said he could not estimate the tax impact of the change on village homes. Payments to Setauket constitute about one-third of Old Field’s $1.1 million annual village budget, Levine said.

“Obviously, our village taxes will go down significantly” if the state legislation is approved, he said.

The primary advantage of the change would be to allow Old Field residents to vote in annual fire district elections for commissioners and on referendums for issues such as truck purchases and building renovations, Levine said.

“It gives us the right to vote for commissioners,” Levine said. “That’s a huge advantage. Previously, we had no say whatsoever in that.”

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