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Release Date: December 13, 2011

Dec. 12, 2011 | Comments

GREENBURGH —Voters head to the polls tomorrow to elect a new commissioner in the Hartsdale Fire District.

Frances Stanley, a member of the district's Board of Fire Commissioners, is facing a challenge from Mark Cohen, a 27-year district resident, and Richard Leo, who recently retired from the fire department as a deputy chief.

Cohen, 57, who served six years on the Ardsley Board of Education, is critical of the fire district's decision to override the state's new 2 percent property tax cap.

The tax levy in the 2012 proposed budget would increase by 6.9 percent to $9.9 million.

Cohen also said the district should be more transparent, noting meeting minutes and detailed budget information are not available on the district's website.

"There's no transparency," Cohen said. "People are extremely pleased with the services they get (but) people are extremely frustrated with the taxes that they pay."

Stanley, who has served on the board for 26 years, said the district exceeded the tax cap because of pension costs and the increasing number of tax certioraris — legal challenges to property assessments.

"We have to make sure we have money there to pay (the certioraris) off," Stanley said. "We have cut our costs to the bare minimum."

Leo, who worked for the district for 34 years before retiring in October, said he would look for ways to save money and fight against unfunded state mandates. He said his experience would prove valuable.

"I've seen the department from the volunteers up to the top of the command structure," said Leo, 57. "I just feel at this time I have much to offer."

Polls will open tomorrow from 3 to 9 p.m. at Fire Station 1, 25 S. Central Ave.

The five fire commissioners serve five-year terms and one seat is up for election every year.

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