WE NEED YOUR HELP — Support your hometown newspaper by making a donation.

Rockville Centre officials re-elected after uncontested race

Proposition passes for service award program to better retain volunteer firefighters

Posted
Deputy Mayor Kathy Baxley
Deputy Mayor Kathy Baxley

Four village officials, including Rockville Centre Mayor Francis X. Murray, were re-elected on June 18 in an uncontested race.

Murray, who garnered 774 votes, won another four-year term, as did Deputy Mayor Kathy Baxley (793 votes), Trustee Michael Sepe (725) and Village Justice William J. Croutier Jr. (820). The vote totals do not include absentee ballots, which the village was still receiving, said village spokeswoman Julie Scully.

Murray and Sepe were elected to their positions in 2011 and re-elected in 2015. Murray appointed Baxley in June 2017 after Nancy Howard, who was moving to Florida, stepped down as deputy mayor. A special election last year, in which Baxley ran uncontested, secured her an additional year in the position. Croutier has been in his position for three terms, and has served as a special prosecutor for the village and as a deputy village attorney. 

“Nine years ago, when I was running for mayor, I wanted to make the village that I grew up in an even better place to live, work and raise children,” Murray told the Herald in April. “We just keep improving, and I would like to be a part of that over the next four years.”

Also on the ballot was a proposition to implement a new pension-style program for Rockville Centre firefighters, which fire officials said would help better recruit and retain members. Known as a Length of Service Award Program, or LOSAP, it passed, with 713 voters showing support and 184 voting against it (not including absentee ballots).

Edward Holohan, chief executive officer of PennFlex Inc., which specializes in service award programs, said at a village meeting earlier this month that the new plan would provide a monthly lifetime payment after a volunteer reaches age 65.

Beginning in 2020, “any volunteer who’s active enough to earn the required number of points, all based on state law, will earn what’s called a $20 service award,” Holohan explained. “If a volunteer earns 10 years of credit, for example, and then turns 65, they will get paid 10 times $20 — $200 a month for the rest of their life.”

The cost to the village of the current program is projected at about $165,000 annually, Holohan added. The new program is estimated to cost about $385,000, which he said would mean a $36 increase for the average Rockville Centre taxpayer.

“We’re more than appreciative of the support that the residents showed,” Rockville Centre Fire Chief Eric Burel told the Herald after the election. “Members are truly thankful for the consideration. We know that times are difficult for many, but it’s a volunteer service that we want to keep going, because we do believe it benefits the village and we enjoy serving the village the way we have been for 125 years.”