In a blow to his ego if nothing else, Town Supervisor Paul Feiner failed today to elect his own candidate as fire commissioner in Hartsdale.
Incumbent commissioner Tony Fraska was re-elected to a five-year term by a margin of 309 to 279 over Mr. Feiner’s choice, Guy Nova, a local lawyer.
The turnout was a record for a fire district election in Hartsdale.
Meanwhile in Edgemont, where there was concern that Mr. Feiner might run his own write-in candidate, incumbent commissioner Jon Faust was easily re-elected to a second five-year term with around 100 votes cast. There were no write-ins.
Mr. Feiner aggressively promoted Mr. Nova’s candidacy with robo calls to every household in the 10530 zip code, including hundreds of residents in Edgemont.
Mr. Frasco meanwhile had the support of several civic groups and the firefighters’ union, which issued a letter this morning criticizing Mr. Nova for running on an agenda to eliminate the dispatch position.
Mr. Feiner, who does not live in either the Hartsdale, Fairview or Greenville (Edgemont) fire districts, has spent the better part of the last decade promoting their consolidation, claiming it would save money.
Consolidation was a non-starter in Edgemont, where it would have led to a 24% hike in Edgemont fire taxes, and wasn’t terribly popular in Hartsdale and Fairviiew either, where residents there feared a loss of local control.
Undeterred, Mr. Feiner has continued to promote consolidation of Hartsdale and Fairview and thought the best way to do it was electing his own slate of fire commissioners he thought would favor it.
Mr. Nova originally said he had no agenda, but later said if elected, he would eliminate the dispatch position, which is a recommendation that Mr. Feiner supports.
Both Hartsdale and Fairview employ local dispatchers who receive emergency calls; Greenville uses a Westchester-county side dispatch system known as “60 control.”
Critics of Hartsdale and Fairview said the districts would save money by doing what Greenville does, but fire officials there, who already work closely together, maintain that they’ve had problems with county dispatch not knowing the local roads which they feel could delay sending emergency units to the scene of a fire.
In addition, they said that switching wouldn’t save any money anyway because the individual responsible for dispatch would simply be assigned to a fire apparatus.
The Hartsdale contest became heated today. Mr. Nova sent letters claiming that he was not Mr. Feiner’s candidate and suggested it was libelous for anyone to suggest that he was.
And Mr. Feiner defended his intervening in the fire district races, claiming that fire taxes in Hartsdale, Fairview and Greenville were now so high they were equal to what residents now pay for town services.
In fact, the fire tax rates are not equal to rates for town taxes.
According to the town tax roll, this year’s assessment for town taxes in unincorporated Greenburgh was $199.48 per $1,000 of assessed value. In Edgemont, however, residents this year paid only $119.78 per $1,000 of assessed value for fire services; in Fairview, the number was $156.74 and in Hartsdale it was $170.88.
Even though Hartsdale taxpayers pay slightly more for their fire services than Fairview taxpayers pay, Hartsdale’s annual fire budget is actually less than that of Fairview. The reason for the difference in tax rates is that there are fewer taxable ratables in Hartsdale than in Fairview.