Finance pro wins fire post

Finance pro wins fire post

By Richard Jacques

Winning over the voters with his financial management background, challenger Donald O’Brien soundly defeated incumbent Rudy Barranco in the Manhasset-Lakeview fire/water commissioner election Tuesday.

Earning 448 votes to Barranco’s 200, O’Brien said he is “happy” that the voters have chosen him to represent them.

Officially named as “water commissioner,” O’Brien will join current commissioners Andrew Martin and Brian Morris beginning Jan. 1 serving dual responsibilities on the district water and fire commissions.

“I think it’s a good balance,” said commissioner-elect O’Brien, who beat an experienced fireman by running by running on a platform of fiscal responsibility.

Currently an independent contractor in commercial real estate finance, O’Brien has 25 years of experience in commercial finance and acquisitions as an employee with both Lehman Brothers and E.F. Hutton.

Now with duel responsibilities and in charge of a $9 million water budget and a $5.7 fire budget, O’Brien said one of the first goals of his three-year term is to improve the budget process and add to reserves.

The reserve funds, needed to buy new equipment, dropped to zero in 2010 and are currently at $400,000, according to O’Brien. He said if there is little or no money reserved it will wind up costing taxpayers more money. He said he hopes to increase reserve levels by at least $100,000.

“Just to replace a truck is $450,000” he said.

O’Brien said he was not satisfied with the job that his opponent was doing so he decided to challenge him and add his expertise to the board.

Elected in 2007, Commissioner Barranco was defeated after one term.

“I really thought that the person that was in office really wasn’t doing a good job,” said O’Brien, a district resident since the age of 10.

With scheduled meetings twice per week, commissioners receive a stipend of $100 per meeting for fire and water responsibilities. O’Brien said it’s not about the money, it’s about helping his neighborhood.

“If you’re really interested in the community, it’s the right thing to do,” said O’Brien.

With a population of 46,000, the fire district is made up of five fire companies; two in Manhasset, two in Great Neck and one in New Hyde Park. The district covers an area of about 10 square miles which includes most of Manhasset except for the Village of Plandome, all of Great Neck south of the railroad tracks and a small portion of New Hyde Park ending before Hillside Avenue.

The water district produces its supply of potable water through the use of 18 separate wells located at 13 different sites throughout the Manhasset-Lakeville area.


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