EXCLUSIVE: Long Island fire departments owed thousands for critical equipment upgrades from state
Some of Long Island's fire departments are owed thousands of dollars for critical equipment upgrades.
The state promised the money nearly four years ago, but has never paid up.
Great River Fire District's new pumper truck was purchased but not paid for -- at least not by those who said they'd foot the bill.
Great River is just one of nearly a dozen Long Island fire districts that were promised hundreds of thousands of dollars for critical equipment upgrades in 2019 and have still not received those funds. One by one, they shared their stories with us.
Bill Theis of the Long Island Firefighters legislative committee says the grants were approved by Democratic Senator Monica Martinez in 2019. However, after she lost her re-election bid in 2020 -- the money was never allocated by the Democrat controlled state Senate.
Patchogue Commissioner Steve Saper says his district purchased a new rescue boat -- based on the promise that it would receive $500,000 from the state. Since that hasn't happened, the district was forced to raise taxes.
In Great River, treasurer Deidra Renwick says the district had to raise taxes nearly 8% after it never received a $365,000 grant. Renwick even showed News 12 the letter that promised the money to the district from Senator Martinez in 2019.
News 12 reached out to Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart Cousins' office for an explanation.
A spokesperson blames Senate Republicans for the delay, saying in part, "Unfortunately, the new Republican representatives failed to fight for this funding.” But the current senator representing many of the fire districts, Republican Dean Murray, showed us this letter he wrote to Stewart Cousins in March, calling on her to "take the necessary steps to release this funding."
In talking to all of the fire officials, they've made it clear to News 12 that their goal is to maintain the commitment that they've made to their communities, that public safety will be paramount.
Now they're calling on Albany to keep its promises as well.
Senator Martinez has since returned to the Senate representing a neighboring district and fire department advocates say she did help them secure a meeting next week with Sen. Stewart Cousins.