By Grace McQuade
The Village of Floral Park’s ceremony swearing in five fire chiefs Tuesday night marked a rare occasion: a mayor swearing in a sibling as village fire chief in the same month that he assumed office.
Mayor Dominick Longobardi swore in his brother, Michael Longobardi, as chief of the Fire Department. Michael Longobardi replaces John Florio Sr., who served two terms as fire chief.
“On behalf of a very, very grateful village, we thank you for everything that you’ve done,” Mayor Longobardi said to Florio. “This isn’t the first run, this is the second run for you, which is pretty much unprecedented in our village,” Longobardi said, calling local emergency service personnel “top-notch” under Florio’s leadership.
As one of his final acts as outgoing chief, Florio presented Michael Longobardi with a chief’s recognition award for his “compassion” and “going over and beyond his duties” as assistant chief in the Floral Park Fire Department.
“The emergency service members are our family,” Florio said. “It doesn’t matter what department or academy you belong to, if someone needs help in no matter what department, we come together to support one another.”
Dominick Longobardi also swore in Fourth Assistant Chief Michael Saville from Hook & Ladder Co. No. 2, Third Assistant Chief Patrick McAllister from Active Engine Co. No. 3, Second Assistant Chief Salvatore Arrigo from Rescue Co. No. 1 and First Assistant Chief Dave Maickel from Reliance Engine Co. No. 2.
Michael Longobardi’s advancement to chief of department allows Maickel, Arrigo and McAllister to each move up the ranks to higher assistant chief positions, and adds Saville to the Fire Department’s board of chiefs.
Asked after the ceremony what it was like to have his brother swear him in, Michael Longobardi said it was “an absolute honor.”
Michael Longobardi said his goals in his new position over the next year are to “improve our ability to protect the residents of our village” and to “expand our quality and knowledge and training … to keep educating and keep moving forward.”
The Floral Park Fire Department currently has 173 volunteer members, including emergency medical technicians, who responded to 1,560 emergencies from April 29, 2016, to April 17 of this year.
The department also advises local business owners and occupants on safe and effective measures to prevent fires, speaks to various civic organizations, conducts fire drills at local schools and oversees necessary building inspections.
Also at Tuesday’s meeting, the Board of Trustees approved the village’s $28.4 million 2017-18 budget, which will increase property tax revenue about 2.9 percent, more than twice this year’s state-imposed cap on such hikes.
The board also approved a law allowing the village to override the cap.
While there were no public or board comments before these votes took place, several residents later expressed disapproval of portions of the budget, namely a $55,000 raise for village Police Commissioner Stephen G. McAllister, making his salary $245,000.
Trustees said the raise is more about overall cost than annual salary — that it actually costs the village less to give the police commissioner a raise than to hire a new commissioner at an average $195,000 salary and pay into his or her pension.
One resident expressed concern that this would set a high and costly precedent for future police commissioner hires, but Longobardi said that prospective candidates and their salaries are considered on an individual basis and that this decision will not set a precedent for future appointments.