Things to Consider in 2022
Since the beginning of 2021, Covid has had Long Islanders on an emotional roller coaster of vaccines, boosters and new variants. With hospitals understaffed and healthcare heroes overworked, it was hard to find a light at the end of last year’s tunnel. And if that weren’t enough, small businesses, especially restaurants, have found it difficult to remain viable.
So, let’s say goodbye to 2021, and look forward to tackling problems and thinking big for the year ahead. Here are five topics that, if addressed, will kick this New Year off right:
Inflation and the 2 Percent Tax Cap
Inflation accelerated to 6.8 percent in November 2021, which was the highest level in almost 40 years. With the supply chain in tatters, businesses trying to hire from a diminishing pool of applicants and the nation’s purchasing power outstripping the supply of goods, inflation is here for the foreseeable future.
Inflation also doesn’t bode well for public schools and municipalities under the 2 percent tax cap. If annual inflation continues at almost 7 percent, the 2 percent tax cap represents a 5 percent loss of real income to government coffers. Expect the 2 percent tax cap to be a hot button issue during the coming 2022 New York State election cycle, especially as new collective bargaining agreements come into play.
Go Green and Shop Local
If I had a nickel for every elected official who asked our community to go green and shop local, I’d have a lot of nickels. If you are a politician who asks your constituents to go green, then please enact green initiatives to practice what you preach. Every municipality should have every government building put through a comprehensive energy performance contract to lower their carbon footprint. Also, I’ve said this in previous articles, but it’s worth repeating, “There is state aid available for all 127 Long Island public school districts to put cash flow positive solar on their flat rooftops.” You can’t teach Long Island’s almost 500,000 public school students to be good stewards of the environment if you don’t model it. And any new municipal vehicles purchased to replace an aging fleet should be electric.
Shop local sounds great, but take a drive around any neighborhood and you’ll see Amazon boxes from over 1 million square feet of Long Island’s Amazon warehouses. By the way, these warehouses were built in part with your tax dollars from IDA tax breaks. Elected officials can encourage consumers to shop local by providing grants to chambers of commerce to subsidize free local small business delivery. This value-add to small businesses would help local retailers compete with Amazon and would provide a legitimate action item for politicians.
Develop the Nassau Hub
Another four years have gone by and there still isn’t a concrete vision to improve the Nassau Hub. Sadly, the $180 million spent renovating the Nassau Coliseum was completely wasted the minute the UBS Arena opened in Elmont. There are unlimited possibilities for the 72 acres in Uniondale. Let’s hope RXR, the master developer of the site, announces something exciting soon, and the Town of Hempstead, who controls the zoning, helps to fast track development.
Eisenhower Park is the centerpiece of Nassau County and larger than Central Park in Manhattan. Manhattanites regularly spend the day in Central Park because it’s a beautifully well-kept tourist attraction. With that in mind, when was the last time you decided to take your family to Eisenhower park?
The newly elected Republican Nassau County executive, Bruce Blakeman, has a Republican majority on the Nassau County Legislature. Blakeman would have no impediments to investing in Eisenhower Park to make it a world class destination. It would be an easy and fabulous opportunity to improve the quality of life for Nassau residents.
Covid and the Anti-Vaxxers
Covid has killed over 800,000 Americans and left many more disabled with a myriad of health issues. Those adding to the Covid death toll and straining the hospital system are mainly from the anti-vax crowd. The Orange County register reported on Dec. 29 that 87 percent of virus hospitalizations are from the unvaccinated. A Dec. 31, a NY Post chart showed the unvaccinated hospitalization rate to be even higher.
Anti-vaxxers claim it’s their body, their choice, and don’t want to be forced to vaccinate. Okay, but the rest of us will be footing their bills with increased insurance premiums. Health insurance companies could easily solve this issue by significantly raising health care premiums for the unvaccinated. Life insurance companies already charge more if you’re a smoker. The health care system could also add a hefty surcharge to every hospital bill for those who can’t show proof of vaccination. This would go a long way to making vaccination a prudent financial decision.
Let’s hope Covid fades away and local governments plan proactively, instead of reactively, this coming year for a healthier environment and robust economy. In the meantime, I wish you all a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year!