North Hempstead approves $126M budget with tax decrease

The North Hempstead Town Council on Tuesday approved a $126.2 million budget that calls for a decrease in taxes for households, but the vote came with a bit of controversy.
Town Councilwoman Dina De Giorgio was the lone board member to vote against the budget, saying  the town “should have taken advantage” of a number of union employees retiring or leaving their posts.
“We’re rehiring new employees but at a lower rate,” De Giorgio said. “So we should have realized the savings in that area as well.”
She said she had an issue with the salaries of exempt employees increasing by almost $800,000 even though the number of exempt employees decreased by four from last year.
Deputy Supervisor Aline Khatchadourian said town salaries increased this year less than one percent from $30.3 million last year to about $30.4 million.
The town had some employees, she said, who went from union to exempt, which “created the shift in salaries.”
The pay for union employees decreased from $24.4 million to $23.1 million.
De Giorgio said that rather than pay increases for exempt employees, she would have preferred  that the town  keep taxes flat or set aside the extra money for road repaving, sidewalk repair or tree replanting projects.
The budget includes a $67.2 million General Fund, a $35.2 million Town outside Village Fund, and $24.04 million for the 20 town-operated special districts.
The General Fund covers residents across the town,  within incorporated villages and unincorporated areas. The Town outside Village Fund accounts for those who live or own property outside the borders of the town’s incorporated villages and goes toward departments that handle road maintenance, snow plowing, code enforcement, building safety and inspection, and community planning.
There are 43 special districts in the town, 20 operated by the town and 23 with independently elected governing boards. Each special district with an independently elected board has its own budget, subject to approval by the Town Council.
Taxes will be decreasing for residents living in both incorporated villages and the unincorporated areas of the town.
Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth said that because Nassau County inadvertently included some LIPA properties on the 2016 tax roll, taxpayers paid additional taxes last year.
Bosworth said this led to the town receiving an additional $6 million in LIPA payments in lieu of taxes,  or PILOTs,  to be shared between the budgets of the town and its special districts.
“This budget returns that money to our taxpayers by making an equivalent reduction in the taxes that will be levied,” she said.
Town Attorney Elizabeth Botwin said the money was “mistakenly included in the tax warrant in 2016 because of the difficulty of dealing with the transition of LIPA properties from taxable to tax exempt.”
Households in an incorporated village will see an average decrease in taxes of about $5.38, while households in an unincorporated area will see an average decrease of about $47.17.
The 20 town-operated special districts include fire protection districts in Albertson, Carle Place, Floral Park, Glenwood, Great Neck, Port Washington and Roslyn, garbage districts in Albertson-Searingtown-Herricks, Great Neck, Manhasset, New Cassel, New Hyde Park-Garden City Park and Floral Park Centre, which also serves as a lighting district, park districts in Harbor Hills, Manhasset Bay, Clinton G. Martin and Levitt Park at Roslyn Heights, Port Washington Public Parking, the Sidewalk District, and the Great Neck Water District.
The other 23 are run by independently elected boards, each headed by a commissioner.
They include the Port Washington Business Improvement District, fire districts in Garden City Park, Manhasset-Lakeville, New Hyde Park, and Westbury, garbage districts in Carle Place, Glenwood, Port Washington and Roslyn, the Shelter Rock and Gold Coast library districts, the Carle Place Library Funding District, park districts in Great Neck and Manhasset, the Port Washington Police District, the Belgrave, Great Neck and Port Washington Water pollution control districts, and water districts in Albertson, Carle Place, Garden City Park, Glenwood, Manhasset-Lakeville, Port Washington, Roslyn and Westbury.
Six commissioner-operated districts did not submit their updated budgets in time because of the LIPA PILOTs, so the board will vote on each of those budgets at its Nov. 15 meeting, Bosworth said.
They are the Port Washington Garbage District, Gold Coast Library District, Carle Place Library Funding District, Great Neck Park District, Port Washington Police District and Glenwood Water District.

By Joe Nikic

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The Island Now

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