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Editorial: Electing Joyce Bourne in Gordon Heights Fire District would send a message about consolidation

A firefighter battles a blaze off Wading River

A firefighter battles a blaze off Wading River Road in Manorville during a large brush fire that spread across eastern Long Island. Credit: Chris Ware, 2012

Among Tuesday's many fire district elections, few if any are as significant as the one in Gordon Heights. After years of trying, those who want to consolidate the exorbitantly expensive district have a chance to take control. Nothing else has worked to relieve taxpayers. If commissioner candidate Joyce Bourne wins, that would be a real step forward.

Right now, the tally on the five-member board of commissioners is 3 to 2 in favor of the irrationally costly status quo. If Bourne were to win -- and she failed by just one vote last year -- the forces of change would have a majority.

That would send a message to the Town of Brookhaven, which has studied the issue to death, that it's time to send out a request for proposals, asking surrounding fire districts for a cheaper way of protecting the residents of the tiny, 1.7-square-mile district. Even though pressure by the reformers has led to some lowering of taxes, the district still has the dubious honor of levying higher taxes than any other fire district in town.

It's simply no longer cost-effective to have a department this small. It has a proud history of serving an African-American community that other districts once chose not to protect. But it makes no sense to cling to the district simply as a historical artifact. It's way too expensive a museum piece.

If Bourne wins, a new era is born for the heavily burdened taxpayers of Gordon Heights. If not, it's more of the same.