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Island village business handled in Manhattan

Robert L. Cox, mayor in Saltaire.

Robert L. Cox, mayor in Saltaire. Credit: Handout, 2008

Fifty-six miles and a world away from Saltaire, about 30 of the Fire Island village's homeowners huddled on the sixth floor of the Hotel Pennsylvania in Manhattan for a winter board meeting.

Amid discussions of post-Sandy rehabilitation, Village Administrator Mario Posillico said at Wednesday's meeting that Saltaire has in excess of $20 million in Federal Emergency Management Agency claims from superstorm Sandy, and the village's portion of a Fire Islandwide beach renourishment project will cost $8.5 million.

Rebuilding the wooden boardwalks that act as the main thoroughfares throughout the village will cost $9.5 million, and 15,000 of 18,000 linear feet of boardwalk were structurally compromised and have to be replaced, he said.

Mayor Robert Cox announced that at the end of last month's meeting in Manhattan, the board voted to give a $7,500 bonus to Posillico and a $2,500 bonus to Village Treasurer Donna Lyudmer for their post-Sandy work.

Because of the level of damage on Fire Island after the storm, the board of the barrier island's other village, Ocean Beach, voted early this month to increase Mayor James Mallott's pay to $36,500 from $1,500 annually, as long as he maintains more than 40 hours per week. He previously worked about 30 hours a week for the village. They also voted to give themselves individual health benefits, or the equivalent in cash. The expenditures will come out of the general budget.

The Saltaire board also voted Wednesday to table a resolution to set a public hearing to waive the state-mandated 2 percent tax cap, saying they wanted to do more research to determine if passing the local law would be necessary.

Cox said the village has been holding its off-season meetings in Manhattan for about three years, to draw more participation from city residents with homes in both places. There are between 4,000 and 5,000 homes on Fire Island.

The Wednesday meeting was webcast, so year-rounders could watch the proceedings from a village building in Saltaire. Posillico said four residents and two village officials watched from Saltaire. "Normally we'll have a few more, but it was a blustery, cold night," Cox said.

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