After delaying a vote to adopt Hempstead Supervisor Laura Gillen’s tentative 2020 budget as the preliminary budget last Wednesday, the Hempstead Town Board has issued its own proposed budget amendments for a public hearing Oct. 16.
The Town Board’s amendments were presented at the beginning of a special meeting Tuesday, resulting in Gillen having to call a recess to review the changes. Gillen said she has her reservations, but will wait for the Oct. 16 hearing to adopt a 2020 budget to address them.
Gillen voted yes with the Town Board to advance the tentative budget along with the board’s changes for the Oct. 16 hearing.
Before the meeting, Deputy Supervisor Bruce Blakeman, Senior Councilwoman Dorothy Goosby, Receiver of Taxes Don Clavin and all of the town council members announced their bipartisan 2020 budget proposal, which they say will cut town taxes by 3.5 percent, or $9.3 million.
Clavin, the Republican candidate for supervisor who is running against Gillen, said he worked alongside the council members to craft the “lean and sensible” 2020 budget proposal.
“We are continuing to show the highest regard for taxpayers,” Clavin said in a written statement. “We cut taxes by 4.2 percent for 2019 over the ‘NO’ vote of the Supervisor.”
He continued, “Now, we are continuing to deliver a real tax cut in 2020, more than doubling the reduction put forth by Supervisor Gillen. It is our sincere hope that she will join the Council Members this year in supporting our tax cut. Homeowners deserve it.”
The council members’ budget would collect property taxes amounting to $253.9 million, which they say is a reduction of more than $9 million compared with the $263.2 million included in the adopted 2019 budget.
Town Board spokeswoman Susan Trenkle-Pokalsky said the budget totals $437.6 million. Gillen’s budget proposal totaled $438 million.
The Town Board’s office said that revenue figures that grow in the council members’ budget include sales tax, mortgage recording receipts and bond premiums on municipal borrowings.
These revenue amounts show growth of approximately $4 million over the budgeted amounts for 2019. Sales tax growth is budgeted at 2.42 percent, which the Town Board said is a more conservative figure than the 2.64 percent rise included in the Nassau County executive’s budget.
Bond premiums constitute a bonus paid to some highly rated municipalities by entities that wish to issue debt. The amount that the bipartisan plan includes for bond premium is $4.3 million, a $2.3 million increase from the 2019 amount.
Finally, mortgage revenue demonstrates an enhancement of $700,000 over the supervisor’s tentative amount, consistent with data available from the county, Trenkle-Pokalsky said.
Gillen said her proposal would cut taxes by 1.7 percent by denying town commissioners’ requests for $35 million in new spending, including over $20 million in additional spending for new full-time, part-time and seasonal positions.
“Taxpayers deserve and need real tax relief,” Blakeman said. “A budget cut of under 2 percent just does not demonstrate the type of commitment to fiscal accountability that our homeowners deserve.”