By Maylan L. Studart
Newly elected Mayor Bonnie Parente and a new Board of Trustees were sworn in for the Village of East Williston on Monday after the previous board led by former Mayor David E. Tanner approved the 2019-20 village budget.
Village Hall’s boardroom was full of new and past committee and commission members, family members and neighboring village officials who welcomed East Williston’s new administration.
Outgoing Mayor Tanner and the board approved a $2.4 million budget with no new taxes, a lesser debt load than when he took office and more interest income.
“We’ve been very successful at managing our expenses,” Tanner said. “We’re fortunate enough to have people who want to come and invest in the community and like what this community represents.”
Under Tanner’s tenure, East Williston’s tax rate has declined approximately 12 percent since the 2012-13 fiscal year.
The largest expense items in the budget are $531,500 to service debt, general government operations of $500,000 and the sanitation contract of $350,200. Tanner said debt funding was used to improve village roads, the renovation of Village Hall and reconstruction of the train station and parking lots.
The largest income items are property taxes of $2.03 million, building permits worth $95,000, $50,000 in mortgage taxes, plumbing fees of $25,000 and grant funding of $9,100.
Treasurer Michael Delury said building permits have grown consistently in the past few years because people want to invest in East Williston.
A final assessment roll of property values was also passed, which residents can inspect and challenge after it is published by the village. If any resident has a major change in his or her assessment, a notification will go out to those residents.
During the organizational meeting, Tanner said his farewell to public office and handed the gavel to Parent, his former deputy mayor.
“Bonnie, Chris [Siciliano], Jim [Iannone], I consider you part of my legacy and I’m confident you’ll do a wonderful job,” Tanner said. “Thank you very much and thank you, everybody, god bless East Williston, a wonderful community.”
Parente was sworn in to her post by Nassau County Legislator and Presiding Officer Richard Nicolello, while her nephew held up her Bible and her husband and son watched.
“Bonnie has been involved and dedicated to service to the community from the moment I met her,” Nicolello said. “Sometimes local government is a thankless job, but it’s the closest position to the people and I know she has her heart in the right place.”
In her first order of business, Parente thanked former Tanner for his leadership and honored him and his wife with a plaque for their dedicated service to the residents of the village.
“We don’t always agree, but what’s wonderful is that we can respectfully disagree and sometimes convince each other,” Parente said.
“Good governance,” Tanner replied.
Parente started her political career in East Williston after being elected trustee eight years ago at the coaxing of Tanner. She comes from a politically engaged family. Her father, Lou Santosus, is the former fire chief and deputy mayor of Mineola. Parente graduated from Hofstra University and holds a law degree from Touro Law School. She has been a practicing attorney for 25 years.
The room was standing room only as Parente swore in her new Board of Trustees, commission and committee members.
Trustee Christopher Siciliano was appointed deputy mayor, James Iannone was re-elected to his post as trustee and newcomer Raffaela Dunne was sworn in to her new post as trustee after beating another newcomer in village elections last month.
Dunne is a civil engineer who holds a master’s degree in environmental engineering. She currently works for a boutique real estate development advisory company in Manhattan.
Dunne’s involvement in East Williston politics began eight years ago when she joined the recreation committee. She recently resigned from the Planning Board to become trustee. She said she looks forward to using her professional background as trustee.
“I feel that with several of the issues of that the village is facing with traffic and water quality, I wanted to use my background to try and improve and help the board with the issues that they’re trying to work on,” Dunne said.
After the new board was formed, it approved all agenda items and gave updates on operations and coming events. The public was treated to refreshments and had the opportunity to chat with elected officials.