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Amityville voters to decide on enhanced pension for village firefighters

Amityville Village Hall on Ireland Place in Amityville

Amityville Village Hall on Ireland Place in Amityville on Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014. Credit: Steve Pfost

Amityville voters will decide whether to expand a pension-like benefit for the village's firefighters in a March 18 referendum.

The proposal would credit eligible firefighters ages 62 or older $20 a month for each year of service up to 40 years, meaning that a firefighter who served that long could earn up to $800 a month.

Currently, firefighters are only credited for service up to 30 years, with a maximum payment of $600 a month.

The proposal needs a simple majority to pass. Should it fail, the current benefits would remain in place.

Trustees gave preliminary approval for expansion of the length of service program, known by the acronym LOSAP, in a 5-0 vote on Feb. 27. With a number of firefighters present in the audience, former fire department Chief Ken Lang and current Chief Rob Waegerle said the program would help retain veteran members with valuable leadership experience.

"Those are the guys who take that 17-year-old [rookie] and make sure that 17-year-old comes home safe at the end of the fire," Waegerle said.

Seventeen of the department's approximately 130 members will reach 30 years of service in 2016, with another 23 slated to reach that mark in the next decade, according to Lang.

Officials estimate that the proposal, if approved, would cost the village about $217,000 per year.

That cost could be met by a tax increase of about $3.61 per village household, Trustee Nick LaLota said, representing an increase of about 7.5 cents per $100 of assessed valuation.

The proposal goes before voters weeks after the release of a state report describing the village's finances as among the shakiest in New York State. It also comes as the administration of Mayor James Wandell has asked the village police department for contract concessions and amid attempts to bring in a budget under the state-imposed tax cap for the third consecutive year.

Voting is 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. at Amityville Memorial High School, Park Avenue Administration Building and at the library.

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