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Fire Commissioners aim to keep within tax cap

REPORTER FILE PHOTO Shelter Island Center Firehouse
Shelter Island Center Firehouse

Shelter Island Fire Commissioners are hoping work needed on the Heights Firehouse won’t boost their 2019 budget to more than $1 million when it has been steadily in the area of $900,000 for the past several years.

Commissioners agreed at their August 29 meeting to get a professional assessment to stop leakage at the Heights Firehouse and determine what else needs to be done at that building.

Commissioners noted that if they are able to contain costs for repairs to the Heights Firehouse, they could be looking at a budget of $984,000, with $852,832 allocated from taxes to fund the current budget.

Currently, they expect to look at a revision at their September 27 monthly meeting, but if information gathered in the meantime requires an earlier meeting, they will schedule another separate budget session in September.

Another question mark for the commissioners is where things stand with the Elite Towers deal. Originally, commissioners anticipated a payment of $150,000 from the Deer Park-based tower company as initial income and ongoing annual payments based on revenue Elite brings in  leasing antennas on the tower proposed for the Manhanset Firehouse.

The agreement with Elite expires on September 28 and the company is seeking a one-year extension while the commissioners want to give the company only a three-month extension.

John Coughlin of Huntington’s Ré, Nelsen, Huber & Coughlin, the attorney’s representing Elite Towers, expected to get final papers on soundproofing of the site to the Town Board. Mr. Coughlin said that would ensure a quick decision on a special permit needed for the tower.

Fire Commissioners aren’t inclined to include any revenues from Elite in the 2019 budget until they are certain of the timing.

They also face an issue of cost for an approved replacement tower at the Center Firehouse. There was only a single bid that was much higher than anticipated. A second bid that should have reached them by the August 27 meeting arrived too late to be considered. The district plans to rebid the tower.

The commissioners are seeking to stay within the 2 percent state-imposed tax cap. That becomes a challenge with mandates that must be met in terms of required equipment, insurance coverage and other escalating costs.