SPECIAL ELECTION: TUESDAY December 10th from 6:00 am to 9:00 pm
Proposed Amendment to the Length of Service Awards Program for Active Volunteers of the Garrison Volunteer Fire Company.
We are asking you vote "YES" to LOSAP on Election Day. The election will be held at the Garrison Firehouse at 1616 Route 9.
Our primary goal is to continue to provide fire and rescue services to our neighbors in Garrison, whom we have served since 1929.
We are asking the voters in the Garrison Fire Protection District to help our volunteers to continue to provide this service effectively, by changing the existing Length of Service Awards Program (LOSAP) plan - increasing the eventual benefit award amount, to bring it to parity with the other Philipstown fire companies.
The cost to the average Garrison property owner would be about $14 per year, added to the fire tax portion of the Town tax bill. Using 2013 tax numbers, the following shows the approximate effect the increase in the fire levy had it occurred in that year.
|2013 Fire levy||$603,255.00
|Tax rate||1.583 per $1000 assessed value (AV)
|Proposed LOSAP increase||$ 24,000.00
|New Fire levy w/LOSAP||$627,255.00
|Approximate new rate||1.646 per $1000 assessed value (AV)
|AVERAGE TAXPAYER DIFFERENCE||$14 per year more
|If your AV is less than $250,000 you'll pay about||$9 per year more
|If your AV is less than $500,000 you'll pay about||$23 per year more
|If your AV is less than $750,000 you'll pay about||$38 per year more
Many hours are invested in training new firefighters, and a good deal of money is spent on their turnout gear (which is required by OSHA regulation). Volunteerism in the Fire Service in Garrison and across the Country is on the decline, and we constantly face the difficult task of recruiting and retaining active firefighters. We need to protect that investment.
To retain active firefighters, and to attract new ones, the Length of Service Awards Program (LOSAP) was created and is operating across the nation. LOSAP provides active volunteers with a small pension benefit based on the number of years of service they provided to their fire department. LOSAP in New York is authorized and regulated by state law and is over decades of existence, it has resulted in improved recruitment and, more importantly, retention of active volunteers.
To qualify for benefits, members must put in a minimum amount of time to earn 50 "points" a year pursuant to the guidelines set forth in Section 217 of Article 11-a of the New York State General Municipal Law. To aid in retaining younger members the plan will now allow accruing points for 40 years instead of only 30 years.
All four Philipstown fire departments have LOSAP plans. However, the Garrison Fire Department's plan offers half the benefits of the other departments' plans. We would like to have LOSAP parity with other departments in our community. The Cold Spring, North Highlands, and Continental Village LOSAP plans each provide a benefit of $20.00 per month for each year of service. Garrison's LOSAP plan provides only $10.00 per month for each year of service. It is not only unfair to the existing Garrison Fire Department volunteers; it creates low morale problems leading to difficulties retention volunteers.
Your Garrison Volunteer Fire Department responded to 183 emergency calls in 2012, many occurring in the middle of the night. Volunteers get up and go, sometimes risking their lives, while most people sleep.
In 2012, just over 3,250 man-hours were spent by unpaid volunteers responding to emergencies, as well as doing training, drills, public education, equipment maintenance, and all the many activities required to keep the fire station and its equipment operational and viable, and the volunteers ready for just about anything that might happen.
This ballot proposal does not involve any retroactive payments in LOSAP to be awarded - New York State Law expressly prohibits it. The proposal only brings the Garrison LOSAP plan in line with those offered by the other Philipstown departments going forward.
The Garrison Fire Department consists of people who are your neighbors and friends. We volunteer because we care about our community and our neighbors who live here, and in part because we believe it keeps our taxes low. The cost of a paid fire department could be far greater than even three times the cost of a volunteer department.
By any measure, the proposed LOSAP increase, which merely matches the existing plans of the other departments in our community, should be considered an economical deal for us as taxpayers. To encourage volunteer firemen and women to join and stay, we must provide a positive environment for people to offer their time. The alternative is that when the fire whistle blows, no one will respond.
We look forward to serving you in the years to come.
Garrison Volunteer Fire Company LOSAP Committee
Dan Sussman, Chairman
Peter von Bergen