Old Field Village residents may have input in official matters of the Setauket Fire District in the near future depending on the outcome of a July 20 public hearing in Brookhaven Town.
Village Mayor Michael Levine said Old Field currently receives contractual services from the Setauket Fire District and is now looking to become an official part of it. The inclusion of Old Field will require the district to expand its boundaries, which needs town approval.
While nothing would change regarding fire and emergency medical services for the village, Old Field residents would have an official say in what goes on in the district if the motion passes — including voting on budgets, referendums, fire commissioners or running themselves. Village residents currently receive fire services and can volunteer as a firefighter, though they cannot vote in fire district elections.
The mayor said for approximately 30 years Old Field has received emergency services on a contractual basis from the Setauket Fire District. In September, when the five-year contract was up for renewal, the village board members unanimously decided to become part of the fire district and received a one-year extension of their contract to start the process.
The first step of the possible expansion of the fire district was New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) signing a bill Sept. 29, 2016 that permitted the Brookhaven Town board to proceed with the process.
The mayor said if the village had simply renewed the contract this year, it would have been significantly more than in previous years — from $385,000 to more than $500,000. Fire services currently make up 40 percent of the village’s budget.
If the town approves the expansion of the fire district, Levine said the current amount for contractual services will come off the village’s $1,115,500 budget, and residents will see a 40 percent reduction in their village taxes. The taxes for the fire district will then be line listed in residents’ Brookhaven tax bills as it is for all residents of the Three Village area.
Levine said he hopes the upcoming town resolution will be approved.
“[The Setauket Fire District has] always provided wonderful fire services to the village,” Levine said. “Nothing will change in that respect.”
Dave Sterne, district manager of the Setauket Fire District, said the district is happy to continue their relationship with Old Field and looks forward to village members becoming more involved.
Sterne said for the fire department there isn’t much of a difference between serving a community within the district or one that happens to have a contract with them.
“We respond exactly the same way,” Sterne said.
Brookhaven Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station) said in an email that the proposed expansion would have no fiscal impact on the town.
“The Setauket Fire District is not a town-wide fire district,” she said. “Therefore any potential impact will be limited to the geographic boundaries covered by the Setauket Fire District.”
Cartright also said after discussions with the town’s law department there will be no impact to current fire district residents if the expansion is approved.
However, she said there is a possibility that Old Field residents may see a slight increase to their fire taxes compared to what they are paying the village now.
“If the Village of Old Field residents are included in the Setauket Fire District boundaries, village property owners will pay the exact same tax rate for fire protection services that existing fire district property owners pay,” she said.
Sterne said the change will not affect the fire district’s budget as it’s based on needs, and they already serve Old Field.
A map, plan and report of the proposed extension prepared by Farrell Fritz, P.C. will be available for review in the town clerk’s office Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at least 10 days before the public hearing.
The hearing will be held July 20 at 6 p.m. at Brookhaven Town Hall. Anyone with an interest in the proposal will be given the opportunity to speak on the record.