Monday, October 10, 2005

All Aboard The Disoriented Express!

Commitment To Community Questioned: Share and Share Alike or One For You and Two For Me?

The following Guest Blog was submitted by West Hempstead resident Joseph Azose. The views expressed are his own. We at The Community Alliance just happen to agree with them!

Of all the lawmakers working for us in Albany, few have greater pull with the MTA than the 9th district’s Dean Skelos. As the representative of the State Senate on the MTA Capital Program Review Board, Senator Skelos enjoys particular influence over how state money is spent on MTA-related outlays. Given the enormity of the overarching organizational umbrella of the MTA and owing to the fact that the LIRR comprises but a small portion of its total transportation system, we in southwestern Nassau County are fortunate to have one of our own at the MTA Review Board to make sure our local interests are addressed, such as keeping fares down and ensuring that branches are kept open. Indeed, Skelos has used his formidable position with the MTA to go beyond basic maintenance and cost controls by securing funding for pet projects earmarked toward the upkeep and beautification of LIRR station throughout the 9th district.

But while Skelos has brought home the bacon for much of his district, some of his constituents have been conspicuously left out in the cold. Browsing through Skelos’ campaign office website (http://deanskelos.campaignoffice.com), one can find the many “investments in local communities” that the senator has claimed to have championed in recent years, including funding for LIRR station improvements, streetscape projects, road repairs, etc. Compared with what the Deputy Majority Leader has brought home for pet projects in other communities, it is quite clear that West Hempstead has ended up with the short end of the stick.

Using data taken straight from the above website, the following chart lists the amount of funding secured by Skelos for various LIRR stations in his district:

Station - Funding
Baldwin - $412,000
Cedarhurst - $1.85 Million
East Rockaway - $917,000
Island Park - $0
Long Beach - $5 Million
Lynbrook - $462,000
Malverne - $452,903
Oceanside - $700,000
Rockville Centre - $780,000
Valley Stream - $213,000
West Hempstead - $0
Woodmere - $371,000


As is obvious from the chart, along with Island Park, West Hempstead has gotten short shrift from Skelos. While it is true that Skelos (along with help of Assemblyman Tom Alfano, and after incessant prodding from local civic groups) twisted the MTA’s arm to repair an old railroad fence along the right-of-way that until then posed a lethal danger to nearby residents, the Senator has otherwise obtained not one red cent for improving the WH LIRR station.

Thus, while Rockville Centre has been busy installing beautiful kiosks and decorative clocks at its station, while Cedarhurst put in beautiful water fountains, while Malverne planted decorative flowers and shrubs, the West Hempstead station remained in its old, decrepit condition, much like the district’s forgotten stepchild.

Furthermore, aside from LIRR station improvements, WH is the only community profiled at the website for which no money has been secured (beyond the requisite grants for the fire departments, little league, etc.) for other endeavors such as road improvements and streetscape projects.

One might argue that in this era of belt-tightening in Albany, now is not the time to clamor for pork-barrel spending beyond that which is absolutely necessary. But if Skelos has clearly demonstrated that this money has been abundantly available to benefit other communities, why is it that West Hempstead keeps getting overlooked? Given its current condition, there is perhaps no railroad station in greater need of a facelift than West Hempstead’s. Abutted on one side by the hideous mountains of dirt and tires at AVF Carting (a waste transfer station), and on the other by the indecorous Courtesy Hotel, all the while piles of trash and debris mingle among the overgrowth of weeds along the right-of-way, one who disembarks at the WH station might well imagine he had just stepped off onto some alien moonscape.

With the Town of Hempstead’s recent, long-awaited, move to condemn the Courtesy Hotel, it is hoped that the redevelopment of that property will lead to an overall gentrification of the surrounding area. As such, the upcoming year or two will afford a unique window of opportunity to improve the WH station in concert with improvements to adjacent properties.

It is high time for Dean Skelos to start delivering for West Hempstead in the way he has shown he is capable of for other communities. Residents of West Hempstead should demand no less from him.

CLICK HERE TO SEE PHOTOS OF LIRR STATIONS AND CORRESPONDING FUNDING. PHOTOS TAKEN BY THE AUTHOR, JOSEPH AZOSE.

Editor's Note: Come now, Joseph. You're just jealous. Look, you have a railroad station adjacent to a hotel, just like Garden City. As for AVF Carting - that toxic dump masquerading as a waste transfer station - you can reinvent Freedomland on that garbage dump, and start your own amusement park!
With Dean Skelos, the Senate's Deputy Majority Leader, as an ex-officio member of the MTA Capital Improvement Review Board (and, for all intents and purposes, the man who holds the purse strings for MTA/LIRR funding), one has to ask why unincorporated areas such as West Hempstead and Island Park get zippo, while other communities within the Senatorial District reap millions. [There's also some head-scratching here as to why the man who holds the reins on funding for the MTA in the one hand, has to circulate Petitions to curtail LIRR increases and to halt the MTA's proposed third-rail with the other hand. Another story for another blog, we suppose!]
To contact Senator Dean Skelos, send an e-mail to skelos@senate.state.ny.us.
Click here for more on what was Freedomland. [Hey, if we can't get ourselves to move forward into the future, at least we can look back with nostalgia at an illustrious past! :-)]
- - -
SHORT TAKES
Politics Makes Strange Bedfellows
Talking about West Hempstead's notorious no-tell motel, a banner was seen this past weekend hanging from the side of the Courtesy's facade, proclaiming support for Town Supervisor, Kate Murray. Believe it or not!
The larger-than-life poster, reading RE-ELECT KATE MURRAY, TOWN SUPERVISOR. WE SUPPORT THE WEST HEMPSTEAD POLICE BOOTH, was illuminated against the backdrop of the hotel's northern wall, and could be seen through the gloom of night by motorists along Westminster Road and Hempstead Avenue.
So THIS is what they mean by "sleeping with the enemy!" The Courtesy Hotel endorses the very person who now says she wants the hotel condemned. Hmmm.
The banner mysteriously disappeared from the Courtesy's wall on Sunday, possibly victim of the wind and rain -- or maybe the Town of Hempstead is finally getting around to enforcing ordinances that prohibit illegal signs!
As for the intended Police Booth - designed to serve as a visible means of crime prevention in the area of the Courtesy (as if the police cruisers parked on-site nearly 24/7 aren't enough) - we have a better idea for reducing crime at and about the hotel. CLOSE THE COURTESY!
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PETERSON TO ADDRESS NASSAU COUNTY CIVIC ASSOCIATION
Republican Candidate for Nassau County Executive, Greg Peterson, will be the featured speaker at the October 27th Meeting of the Nassau County Civic Association.
The Meeting, to be held at 7:30 PM on Thursday, October 27th, will take place at the Hicksville VFW Hall, 320 South Broadway (Route 107), in Hicksville.
Peterson, a partner in the law firm of Berkman, Henoch, Peterson & Peddy, was the former Supervisor and Presiding Supervisor of the Town of Hempstead, and Chairman and CEO of Nassau Downs OTB.
The Nassau County Civic Association is a non-partisan organization whose mission is to promote open, honest, and moral government that is responsive to the needs of the people of Nassau County, while encouraging public participation and awareness; to encourage the wise and efficient use of taxpayer dollars;
to limit and reduce the high burden of any and all government taxation on the people of Nassau County; to seek and support any reform which may be necessary to achieve the objectives and purposes stated herein; to disseminate information concerning all aspects of the above stated purposes. [To boldly go where no civic association has gone before. No, wait, that's Star Trek! :-)]
For additional information about the October 27th Meeting and the Nassau County Civic Association, visit www.nassaucivic.com/.
- - -
THE TAX MAN COMETH
School Property Tax bills are in the mail. Some of you may have already received them. Hope you had the smelling salts on hand!
Once you get over the initial sticker shock, take a look at the bottom line -- the total tax due. Then DOUBLE that amount. This is what you will be paying within 5 years if we fail to reform the way we fund our schools!
Then look to the upper right of the tax bill for estimated State Aid, and divide that by the total tax levy. This will give you a ballpark figure of the percent of the tab being picked up by the State of New York. Typically, Long Island School Districts receive somewhere in the neighborhood of 12% to 18% in State Aid. Upstate Districts receive upwards of 60%! Disparity, thy name is the NYS Legislature...
THE COMMUNITY ALLIANCE SURVEY
Help us help you to reduce the School Property Tax. E-mail us with the following info from your Tax Bill/Statement:
Name of School District
Dollar amount of Tax Levy
Percent increase from last year
Tax Rate (What you pay per $100 in Assessed Value)
Dollar amount of estimated State Aid
Dollar Amount of Total Tax Due
Let's get our fair share of the State Aid pie, and work to replace the oppresive School Property Tax with a fair and equitable system!

7 comments:

  1. Hofstra University recently conducted a Poll that shows Property Taxes to be the number one issue among Long Islanders in the upcoming election. http://www.news12.com/LI/topstories/article?id=161102

    Taxes! Taxes! Taxes!

    Just one of the issues where Harvey Levinson is the clear winner over Kate Murray. Levinson at least recognizes the problem and is encouraging us (and the legislators in Albany) to think about it, talk about it, and work toward a solution. Murray, on the other hand, as this blog has said, has her head buried in the sand.

    No one questions that the school property tax will double by the end of the decade if we do not tackle the problem. Whether the answer is an income tax (to replace the school property tax), a fair share of state aid to Long Island's school districts, or a tightening of the fiscal belt by all concerned at our schools with greater financial oversight -- or a combination of the above, something must be done, and none to soon.

    Time to wake up, Long Island. The floodgates are open. Swim or drown. Your choice!

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  2. Dear Seth and Roy:

    Thanks for all the information and volunteer work you do for all. Imagine if this was a town job? Anyway I recently came across an old tax bill from 1999, just 6 short years ago the school tax bill was 50% less than the one I just received. We can see where we are heading, the question is Can we afford to go there? When you find out the truth about people in Albany you can clearly see we need to fix Albany as well.Lies and more lies taxes and more taxes, the time has come for new ideas and solutions. If the best plan from the GOP is to offer us a man from the past and a town supervisor who loves cats and dogs, I say lets move because we can't afford the family affair any more. If we don't send our message now, it will be too late for all. Aparently the GOP DOESN'T HAVE A PLAN.

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  3. As usual Pat your posting makes little sense?

    A tax bill from 1999 of course the school taxes were 50% less what did you expect???

    New ideas and solutions hmmm who could you be thinking about???

    OOOH I know Harvey Levinson right!!!

    Because he has a plan right ???

    How is he going to implement this plan???

    And like I've posted before which noone has answered.... What has Harvey Levinson done for the taxpayers of Nassau County so far???

    Has he challenged any of the assessment processes???

    Has he faced the fact that the assessment process is unfair to taxpayers???

    WHAT HAS HE DONE BESIDES COME UP WITH THE "PLAN"???

    I AWAIT AN HONEST ANSWER - AND DON'T GIVE ME ANYTHING BUT HARVEY LEVINSON AS AN ANSWER - NO KATE, NO SPECIAL DISTRICTS, NO TOH, NO REPUBLICAN PARTY OR THE GOP

    HARVEY LEVINSON'S ACCOMPLISHMENTS WHICH HAVE IMPACTED THE TAXPAYERS IN A POSITIVE WAY???

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  4. First Harvey asked to have the assessment fazed in over 5 years but aparently no one has taken up the cause in Albany. Could it be because of the court order the before Harvey was in office. I do agree with you about the assessment in fact I expreesed it to O'Shea since this was his baby and plan to hire a firm from Ohio. I told all of them way before Harvey was ever in office, Why can't we do what other states do and that is when a person sells their home now assess it for the true value. Do it right by going in and look at the house inside and out, but again that was before Harvey and this was court order after the GOP fought this in court. No the Democracts didn't ask for this it was Fred Brewinton and some people who felt they were paying more the the afluent communities and we were. Again was it right THE ANSWER IS NO NO AND NO IT'S LIKE PAYING TAXES ON A TAX DEFERRED PLAN AFTER ALL WHEN I BOUGHT MY HOME 30 YEARS AGO IT I expected to pay taxes on what I paid then not now. Who cares how much a home is worth if you have no plans on leaving. The only time you worry about a price is when you sell, but we the people who still live here know that we are becoming house rich and cash poor. Now on the other hand is the process fair and yes it is did some have problems yes they did. Did it solve a problem with the county to some dregree it did and it is getting better. The question for everyone is this is your home worth as much as they say? In most cases everyone I have spoken too knows their home is worth alot more in the current market. Never said all this is fair never said Harvey has all the answers. What I did say why is there no plan coming from the GOP? GIVE ME SOMETHING ANYTHING. If they feel for us or feel there is something wrong and we know there is than tell me what the plan is don't tell me about peeling paint. You tell me that 50% increase in school taxes doesn't surprise you? Yet you complain about the assessment of your home? If a rapid tax increas in only 6 years doesn't bother you why should anything else.

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  5. You ask What has Harvey done? The question should be what has Kate done what has our state legislators done to correct or solve our problems? Our State Legislators have done very little in fact we get back the least state aid in the state which adds to our tax burden They just passed a new school accountablity bill which does absolutly nothing in fact it added another mandate to the tax payers by have board members going on more trips and 40 hours of class time. Do you believe this non sense more trips when people are complaining about the trips cell phones and other expenses by school boards. In fact our legislators went to some board members to create this bill. Just shows you we need to clean house in albany as well.

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  6. Again you have not answered the question at hand noone has !!!

    The question was not what has Kate done - It is what has Harvey Levinson DONE!!!!

    And yes I am concerned about the increase in school budgets, maybe the Taxpayers should back those complaints up, maybe they should vote down the schoold budgets force the school districts to trim their own fat!!!

    And you are right about the assessment process why is based on the market value if you don't plan on moving - I am house rich and cash poor - what are the alternatives sell your house and move out of state where you can buy a huge house with property and don't have a mortgage???

    The value should be a fixed price and should be reevaluated every 5 years & I don't feel they should look inside a house what difference does it make?

    If you have not changed the house structure itself like a second floor dormer why should it matter, now we are being taxed on our living space, amount of bathrooms, bedrooms, & whether you have a garage or not????

    These are the things that should be fought by the County Assessor and aren't being brought up!!!

    And if it had to be done fight it in court instead of letting it go!

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    ReplyDelete