Wednesday, October 03, 2007

When Is A "Freeze" Not A "Freeze?"

When Town Doesn't "Hold Line," But Crosses It

Remember when Town of Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray promised a "freeze" of all Town taxes? That famous "hold the line" on property taxes?

Well, she didn't do it for 2007, did she?

All the smoke-and-mirrors -- or "gimmicks," as Kate calls them -- and the tax levies for the Town of Hempstead still went north.

Take a look at your 2007 statement for the General Tax Levy. [If you can't find yours, or burned it in disgust, click HERE to view the representative tax bill on the website of Residents For Efficient Special Districts (RESD).]

Leave aside, if you dare, the Town's so-called "special districts" (fire, water, sanitation), over which Supervisor Murray continues to claim the Town has no control. [No, the Town Attorney simply serves as counsel to one or more of such districts as a matter of convenience and coincidence.]

Anyway, let's look at the Town's 2007 levy versus the Town's 2006 levy, shall we? [All figures rounded -- up or down -- to nearest million.]

Town Highway, repairs & improvements (like we've seen any of that):

2006 Levy -- $52 Million

2007 Levy -- $54 Million

Town Lighting District (We guess they do leave the lights on for us):

2006 Levy -- $8.6 Million

2007 Levy -- $9 Million

Town Refuse Collection District (and you thought the Sanitary Districts collected refuse):

2006 Levy -- $46 Million

2007 Levy -- $48 Million

Town Park District:

2006 Levy -- $33 Million

2007 Levy -- $34 Million

Give or take, that's $5.4 million in additional taxes (over 2005) right there. And we haven't even factored in that "sidewalk assessment."

So much for a tax "freeze." We wonder what "line" Kate Murray was holding? [For her sake, we hope there's a life preserver at the end of it.

But wait!

What if, as the Republicans on the County Legislature have foolishly suggested, we "freeze" the assessment? Won't that "freeze" property taxes as well.

Ah, not exactly.

In every instance where the Town raised the tax levy, there was an increase in the tax rate -- a tax rate set, not by the Assessor, but by the Town of Hempstead!

"Freeze" the Assessment, as the County GOP suggests, and the taxing authorities -- be they County, Town, School, or Special District, will have no alternative but to INCREASE THE TAX RATE.

If Paul has to get paid, Peter's pocket is going to get picked. Period!

Back in March, Supervisor Murray talked of a tax "freeze" for 2008 (click HERE to read the Town's press release). The proposed 2008 Town Budget is now on the table. [Nice photo of the sun setting over the Town of Hempstead.]

The promise: Hold the line on taxes, with a proposed "freeze" of all levies at 2007 levels. [As if that was a bargain for the Town's homeowners.]

And what, pray tell, did Kate Murray do with that $50 million surplus inhereted from her predecessor, Rich Guardino? We didn't receive any refund checks, did you?

Maybe its not the "freeze" we should be worried about, but rather, the thaw -- and the flood of rising taxes -- that will surely follow.

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