Friday, January 18, 2008

"Did Someone Call Me Shnorrer?"

Counsel For Sanitary District 1 Still Has Gift For Glib

There he goes again!

Learned (in the ways of razzle-dazzle 'em) counsel for Town of Hempstead's Sanitary District 1, Nat "Extra Trucks To Pick Up The Bread During Passover" Swergold continues to talk up the propriety of paying more for the same service the Town provides, directly, for considerably less. [Guess you could call that, "trash talk!"]

Apparently, Nat has an audience in the Five Towns, or at least the benefit of a deaf-eared electorate that would rather pay top dollar than vote the bums out.

Merge the commissioner-operated special districts into existing Town departments? Take away the benefits afforded to the commissioners, their wives, children, and mothers-in-law? Actually save the taxpayers significant tax dollars?

Are you crazy?

What would folks like Nat Swergold, who depend upon the ignorance and indifference of the ordinary Joe for their meal tickets, do with themselves?

Surely, Nat could be recycled, and put to a higher and better use. [Say as a representative for Wonder Bread during Passover.]

Then again, recycling in the Town of Hempstead's Sanitary District 1 isn't all Nat Swergold says its cracked up to be, either.

Nassau County Comptroller Howard Weitzman, who is a member of the NYS Commission on Local Government Efficiency & Competitiveness, offers a brilliant solution, sure to save the taxpayer in the wallet and equalize what homeowners and businesses pay for services such as garbage collection: turn the operations over to the towns, leaving in place the districts and their commissioners, who will serve without pay, without benefits, without perks such as expense accounts and cars, and without taxing authority.

In other words, leave the commissioners as mere volunteers (in the true sense of the word), and watch how quickly both the commissioners and their special districts disappear from the face of Long Island.

Meanwhile, residents in places like Sanitary District 1 will continue to cough up taxes to the tune of $928 a year per household -- with residents of Sanitary District 6, where they don't have "back door service", paying even more (an average of $974 a year per household) -- while those who are served directly by the Town of Hempstead Sanitation Department pay an average of $671 per household.

Go figure!
- - -
From The Merrick Herald:

Report trashes special sanit districts
By Mike Caputo

A report recently released by county Comptroller Howard Weitzman revealed that many homeowners are paying more to receive the same services - such as garbage pick-up - as residents in neighboring municipalities.

According to the report, which outlined the economic inequities among the dozens of special districts in Nassau, the tax bills are significantly different within each special district, even if the residents are receiving the same or similar fire, water and sanitation services.

"The purpose of this report was to open people's eyes to the disparity in what residents in Nassau County pay for basically the same services," Weitzman said. "I think we were successful in doing that. People may now be open to the fact that this structure under which they receive municipal services is part of the reason why their tax burden is so high."

Homeowners in Sanitary District 1, which covers the Five Towns and parts of South Valley Stream, pay an average of $928 a year for garbage service, the report said. Although the district provides rear-door garbage pick-up, several other districts in the county provide the same service for a lower cost to the taxpayer, the comptroller's report added.

Homeowners in Merrick and North Merrick pay an average of $671 a year, and receive rear-door garbage pickup from the Town of Hempstead. Nat Swergold, attorney for Sanitary District 1, disagreed with Weitzman's claim that residents are being charged differently for the same services.

"I think [the report] is inaccurate because it mixes apples and oranges," Swergold said. "The type of service, quality and level of service one district provides as compared to another is not a factor that goes into his formula, which is strictly a mathematical formula."

Swergold added that in addition to Sanitary District 1's rear-door pick-up, its unique recycling services are "built in" to the cost. The district's residents are not required to separate recyclables from their garbage. Instead, separation of recyclables is done at the district's facility in Lawrence.

Weitzman pointed out that most Town of North Hempstead districts - town and commissioner-run - use private carters to supply the work, costing less than a municipal workforce. However, Weitzman said that if the municipal workforce must be retained, its district's cost to taxpayers can also be restructured. For example, the Town of Hempstead-run sanitary district (including, but not limited to: Bay Park, Barnum Isle, Bellmore, East Meadow, Harbor Isle, Lido Beach, North Lynbrook and Point Lookout) costs $674 on average to homeowners, while the commissioner-run Sanitary District 6 (comprising Elmont, Franklin Square, Garden City South, Lakeview, Malverne Park, South Floral Park and West Hempstead) charges about $974 per household.

"Because of the structure of the commissioner-run districts, there is no transparency or accountability and they are spending more money," Weitzman said.

New York State stopped forming commissioner-run districts nearly 70 years ago, but many remain in Nassau County.

County Executive Tom Suozzi's mission to cut costs by consolidating special districts created a buzz toward the end of 2007. In September, Suozzi reached a verbal agreement with four municipal-run sewage districts that would merge them with the county's system. Only two of the four districts, Cedarhurst and Glen Cove, have officially signed on. The other two districts, Lawrence and Long Beach, continue to mull over contractual details.

By omitting the word consolidation, Weitzman proposed that the towns take over provisional garbage services, but without eliminating commissioners and districts.

Swergold dispelled Weitzman's notion that merging with the town would cut costs. He said Weitzman did not take tax rates into account when computing the figures. According to Swergold, Sanitary District 1 provides the lowest cost to the residents based on the tax rates.

"Our effort is to provide enhanced recycling, try to preserve our present collection methodology and schedule at no substantial increase in cost to our taxpayers," Swergold said. "I think we have managed to hold the line over the years fairly well."

Comments about this story? or (516) 569-4000 ext. 210.

©Herald Community 2008

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