When he's required to seek funding from the Village of Mamaroneck (VOM) Board of Trustees, Fire Chief Chris Szymanowski dons his dress white uniform and shiny patent leather shoes. To present her annual report on summer camp fees, Recreation Superintendent Rosanne Saracino wanted to wear more formal clothes, but she opted instead to put on a cozy sweater to fight the frigid temperatures before appearing at the board’s work session last night.
Unlike on Long Island, for example, where residents pay a separate tax to a fire district that can control its own budget, Szymanowski must abide by the village’s procurement rules and seek board approval for larger purchases.
At the last board meeting, the department received authorization to buy a $13,587 infrared camera and 40 bailout kits. The next item on its wish list is an $8,510 vehicle similar to a rugged golf cart. Szymanowski compared two vehicles, an electric-powered Gel and a gas-powered Gator, the latter being one that he recommends.
“It has been known for a while that a small utility vehicle would behoove this organization,” he said, noting that the fleet of trucks is in tip-top shape.
The vehicle would service major events on Mamaroneck Avenue. At last year’s , an alarm came in at the . Firefighters responded from the Post Road, but had the alarm been mid-block to the west, “it would have been hard to respond,” said Szymanowski.
At the annual , moreover, an alarm necessitated the response of several vehicles that disrupted the race route. Having the Gator would have allowed the department to scout out the situation and determine an appropriate level of response.
“The way Mamaroneck has gone hosting these events and inviting so many people in here, eventually, it’s going to catch up to us,” he said.
The four-wheel drive vehicle can access wooded areas, marshes and the beach at Harbor Island. It can also navigate around downed trees. A few days ago at Taylors Lane, a tree fell, blocking emergency vehicles from accessing a half-mile of road, a similar situation that occurred during Tropical Storm Irene. It can also enter any of the 10 enclosed parking garages.
The purchase will be on the agenda for the next board meeting. The chief would like to have it in service for the scheduled . “The next thing you know, Mamaroneck Shares will creep up on us. You don’t know you’ll need it until have to use it; that’s not when you want to say ‘we should have had it.’”
Saracino met with the board to determine the extent of the subsidy the village would extend to the 2012 summer camp. Traditionally, the camp has gone for six weeks and several outings are included in the fee.
“It’s all-inclusive,” said Saracino. “One fee includes all of the trips, pizza day, BBQ day, the ice cream social, carnival day.”
Registration begins March 1. Fees last year ranged from $652 to $902. Nearby municipalities have experimented with initiatives that cut public costs. Scarsdale reduced the camp to five weeks without lowering its fee, she said. Briarcliff charges more than Mamaroneck, even though the pool used is municipally owned and busing costs are nil.
Mamaroneck must bus its campers to and Westchester County public pools.
Last year, the village subsidized around 19 percent of the camp’s $190,000 expense, the rest of which is covered by tuition. This year, the board seems inclined to reduce its commitment to only cover 16 percent of the camp’s cost. Tuition will rise to around $750 for younger children and top out over $1,000.