Commissioner Steinmuller challenged again by newcomer

REPORTER FILE PHOTO | Elections to the Shelter Island Board of Fire Commissioners will take place December 10.

Andy Steinmuller, who is currently chairman of the Shelter Island Board of Fire Commissioners, announced Monday night he will seek another five-year term as a commissioner. But he won’t be running unopposed as he did in 2008.

John Beresky, 40, who made a bid for a seat last year with a write-in campaign, said Tuesday morning he is “definitely running” this year and will file the paper work necessary to put his name on the ballot. Mr. Beresky is also a New York City firefighter in his second year as a member of the Shelter Island Fire Department.

Last year’s election results were muddied by charges that 35 votes that would have gone to Mr. Beresky were voided because people wrote his name in the wrong place on the paper ballot. The result was 95 votes for incumbent Andy Reeve and 70 votes for incumbent Richard Surozenski.

Mr. Beresky was credited with 35 votes. As was the case last year, Mr. Beresky said his candidacy is based on ensuring that Shelter Island firefighters are adhering to rules critical to their safety.

Mr. Steinmuller has 60 years as a firefighter, the first 20 with the Bethpage Fire Department before he and his family began vacationing on Shelter Island 40 years ago. He is completing his 15th year as a commissioner.

The election takes place on Tuesday, December 10, and candidates have until 20 days prior to the election to file their intent to seek a commissioner’s seat.

All registered voters who have residency here for at least 30 days prior to the election are eligible to cast ballots.

Fire Commissioners formally approved their 2014 budget Monday night that calls for total appropriations of $834, of which $795,470 is to be raised from taxes. Taxpayers will see a drop in their bills in 2014, according to District Treasurer Amber Williams. Those whose properties are assessed at $640,000 will see a 99 cent cut in that tax bill that has been $176.32. Those whose properties are assessed at $1 million will see a $1.50 drop in their tax bill bringing that bill to $273.95.

With Jackie Tuttle’s retirement as secretary of the fire district after 25 years, commissioners are interviewing candidates to replace her, Mr. Steinmuller said. They hope to name a replacement by the end of November who could work with Ms. Tuthill during December to provide a smooth transition, Mr. Steinmuller said.

The job is being expanded to include some record keeping that goes beyond providing minutes of commissioners’ meetings and handling correspondence.

Ms. Tuttle, who said she first accepted the job not knowing it was a paid position, earned $8,400 this year. Her successor will be earning $8,600.