Nassau County Presiding Officer Richard Nicolello said making Nassau County more affordable for current and prospective residents is one of the main issues he wishes to address if re-elected in November.
Nicolello, a Republican from New Hyde Park, was first elected to represent the 9th Legislative District in 1996. The district includes New Hyde Park, Garden City Park, Mineola, East Williston, Williston Park, Albertson, Roslyn Estates, Munsey Park, Plandome, Plandome Heights and Plandome Manor.
Leading the charge for eliminating roughly $100 million in various county fees and cutting taxes by an additional $50 million in the county’s 2022 budget, Nicolello stressed the importance of keeping Nassau an affordable place to live during an interview with Blank Slate Media.
Nicolello said Nassau County Executive Laura Curran’s administration is underestimating the proposed sales tax revenue the county will receive next year.
“They projected a certain percentage increase over the last three years, but in fact, the number they are projecting … in 2022 is already going to be reached in 2021,” Nicolello said. “They’re projecting either a no sales tax increase or a decrease in 2022 which is contrary to what our office of legislative budget reviewers were projecting.”
Nicolello said the County Legislature projected a “realistic” 3.7 percent growth in sales taxes next year, saying it is “easily attainable.” The revenue generated from the projected sales tax growth, he said, will cover most of the revenues that will be lost in cutting the $350 tax map verification fee and the $55 public safety fee as well as reducing the $300 recording fee to $50.
In terms of reassessment, which Republicans have criticized Curran for in the past, Nicolello acknowledged the need to properly reevaluate properties throughout the county, but said he would have gone about it differently. Though the assessed values may be more accurate than a decade ago, he said, the results are not, and should not be acceptable.
“You look at people whose school taxes arrived and they’re supposed to be going down with their new assessed values and they’re seeing increases,” Nicolello said. “There has been a gross failure here and the property values need to be corrected.”
Nicolello’s district is one that stretches throughout a handful of villages and unincorporated areas. With new census data released and another year of redistricting discussions ahead, Nicolello said protecting minority areas is of high priority, but he pointed to national examples where nonpartisan redistricting commissions, backed by most Democrats, are not effective.
“In New York, the nonpartisan commission broke down because Republicans and Democrats passed their own maps, so nonpartisan commissions, which are touted as something that’s going to be an improvement, are not,” Nicolello said.
Nicolello said the supermajority of Democrats in various branches of state government allowed “radical left policies” to become more prevalent.
“That is a much greater problem for this county than any local legislative body,” Nicolello said.
In terms of a national theme of divisiveness between Republicans and Democrats, Nicolello said he does not see anything like that on the legislative level. Nicolello also said he believes that President Joe Biden won a free and fair election over Republican incumbent Donald Trump last year.
Nicolello is running against Democrat Salju Thomas for re-election. Nicolello said he looks forward to serving as a legislator and being the leader of a “checks and balances” system in Nassau, if re-elected.