Town of Brookhaven residents voted to pass eight referendums on Aug. 9 for the special-use districts that fund the not-for-profit ambulance companies in the Town of Brookhaven to modify the existing Volunteer Benefit program known, as LOSAP that has not been changed since 1995.
The modification will now increase the amount of credit a volunteer receives for a year of service from $20 to $30, while dropping the eligibility age from 65 to 60. The program is also now being coupled with the recently adopted Revenue Recovery program, agreed to between the eight volunteer ambulance companies and the Town of Brookhaven.
The amendment is applicable to only those who earn at least one year of service credit for calendar years beginning on Jan. 1, 2023. The monthly payment increases will be effective as of Jan. 1 the following year in the additional service credit was earned.
Local amendments include the South Country Ambulance District, Medford Ambulance District, Mastic Ambulance District, Mastic Beach Ambulance District, and the Shirley Ambulance District.
The current annual cost of funding the South Country’s volunteer service award program is $29,000. The new cost of the program, according to the town, will increase in 2023 to $118,500 for current volunteers. The current annual cost of funding the Medford Ambulance District Volunteer Service Award Program is $54,000. The increase will be as much as $134,000 for current volunteers. The Mastic Beach Ambulance District Volunteer Service Award Program is $26,500 to $87,000; Shirley is $29,000 to $90,000; and Mastic is $5,000 to $43,000. However, the cost per town taxpayer depends on the individual district.
According to South Country Ambulance chief and district manager Greg Miglino, the vote is to modernize the volunteer retirement system known as LOSAP in the Town of Brookhaven ambulance districts. The current system, he said, has not been modified in 27 years and lags behind that of other volunteer fire and EMS agencies a New York State.
“The program will now be totally funded out of money that would be generated by the implementation of the EMS Cost Recovery Act, passed in New York last year,” he explained, noting it will also result in taxpayer savings.
In the South Country Ambulance District, if approved, the increased cost for the modified program (if there was no Revenue Recovery Program) would be less the .2 cents a day or about $6.27 increase for an entire year for the average taxpayer. Currently, South Country Ambulance volunteers are the busiest EMS agency in the Town of Brookhaven, handling almost 4,000 9-11 calls a year.
“They deserve what they are asking for, between the pandemic and the service they give,” added vice chair of the Long Island Fire Fighters Legislative Committee, Bill Theis.