Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Taking On The Special Taxing Districts ~ At Last

If You Pay Something, Say Something!

A Call To Action From The Nassau County Comptroller

Dear Friends,

You have been receiving my messages on important County matters for quite some time now and I have been gratified at the many positive responses I have received. Now we need your help.

Governor Eliot Spitzer’s proposed changes to special taxing districts have sparked a lively debate. I have been advocating for the reform of these outdated, archaic and all too often wasteful forms of government for over four years. The Governor has included special district reforms in his 2008-2009 New York State budget that are based on recommendations from this office and the New York State Commission on Local Government Efficiency and Competitiveness, on which I serve.

The state budget is now in the hands of your state representatives in Albany. Tell them what you think. Write to your State Assembly member and State Senator, and write your newspapers, urging support for the Governor’s proposals to end wasteful spending by commissioner-run special districts. Together we can make government more open and save Nassau County taxpayers millions of dollars.

I would like to offer some more details on the proposals and to explain how they might affect you.

-The Governor has proposed to end all pay and benefits for special district commissioners. Commissioners will serve as volunteers, just as, school board members, fire district commissioners, and most village mayors and trustees serve the public without pay or benefits.

-Did you know? Commissioners now get a flat $100 payment each time they claim to do district work. Audits done by my office have found that some special district commissioners claim over 250 payments a year! Many commissioners also get lifetime health coverage for themselves and their families and earn retirement credits. In one water district there were seven employees related to each other. In one garbage district the employees received health coverage that cost over half a million dollars more than what the average government employees receives! Why? The policy was sold to the district by an insurance broker who earned a commission on the fee. Free cars, sanitation “conventions” in Disney World and golf outings that are billed as “meetings” are just some of the outrageous “extras” these commissioners receive. Why should taxpayers pay for these perks?

-The Governor’s second proposal is to have the Towns takeover garbage operations.

-What will this mean to you? Depending on where you live, garbage is picked up by the towns or by a special district run by commissioners. The Town-run sanitation services are less expensive than sanitation services run by commissioners for the same level of service. If the towns took over operations, without cutting services, millions could be saved in unnecessary insurance, professional fees, no-bid contracts and no-show employees. Towns also do a better job of taking a sharp pencil to proposed expenses because town operations are more transparent, more scrutinized and people are more likely to vote in town elections since they are held on Election Day.

So once again, I ask you to let your elected officials know how you feel. To find out who your state representatives are, just follow these links:



Please click on the link below for the New York Times article on this subject:

As always, I look forward to hearing from you. To share your thoughts and comments with me, please use the email address below.

Howard S. Weitzman
Nassau County Comptroller

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