Friday, November 07, 2008

Kick Me Kate!

Murray Proposes 6.6% Tax Hike For Hempstead Town

It wasn’t all that long ago that Town of Hempstead Supervisor, Kate Murray, was issuing press releases and generating Murraygrams (at taxpayer expense) to announce that she was “holding the line” on property taxes, or, as if leaving homeowners out in the cold was something to be proud of, “freezing” town taxes.

Well, no press release or Murraygram to accompany the proposed Town of Hempstead budget for 2009, where homeowners in the unincorporated areas of the township will, if Kate Murray has her way, “enjoy” a 6.6% increase in town-imposed property taxes – not including any hike in special district taxes, the control over which the town summarily disavows.

Harkin back to the days of former Supervisor Rich Guardino, who was plucked from elected office as Town Supervisor for a presumably more colloquial life in academia. Rich left the town in relatively good stead, financially, with an “official” surplus of some $50 million dollars. [We say “officially,” as those in the know in Hempstead Town at the time put that surplus closer to $100 million.]

Enter Kate Murray and, lo and behold, that surplus mysteriously evaporates into thin air.

Where did all that money go? To fix town roads? Hardly. To make local government more efficient? Don’t make us laugh. Back to the taxpayers? Now, you’re pushing it.

Turning surpluses into deficits, and growing government, rather than shrinking it, is not only the stuff that Washington, D.C. is made of, or so it would appear as the “respected on Wall Street” crowd at Hempstead Town Hall learns, at the expense of homeowners, that “borrow and spend,” like the historical downturns in the market, eventually catches up with you.

With falling revenues and an unprecedented financial gloom hanging over Long Island, an increase in property taxes was, more or less, inevitable. Credit is tight. State aid to localities is harder to come by. Costs are, as Kate Murray aptly puts it in her budget statement, “skyrocketing.”

Still, a 6.6% increase in the already onerous tax burden is a bit much to be shouldered by Town of Hempstead homeowners, already straining to keep afloat in a sea of rising school and county taxes, and home values that, in some neighborhoods, have declined as much as 20% over the past year. This is especially so when, year after year, the Supervisor has boasted as to the town’s fiscal prowess and financial muscle.

And why is it that the poor souls without benefit of village life – the abandoned and neglected of unincorporated hovels like Elmont, Baldwin, Uniondale, and West Hempstead, to name but a few – are called upon to bear the cost of the town’s tax hike, while the incorporated get a free ride under the Supervisor’s proposal?

Then again, why ask? It would seem that the unincorporated hitherlands, with little say, and even less in the way of actual representation, are the favorite dumping grounds for the Town of Hempstead’s refuse, both literally and figuratively.

Kate Murray, having gratuitously turned America’s largest town into America’s most blighted township, now looks to add a new mark upon the cross us townies must bear: The Town of Hempstead – America’s most taxed township.

Yes, if you want the services – such as those provided by lighting districts, parking districts, refuse disposal districts, and the like (sorry folks, but sanitary districts and water districts will cost you extra, as they’re not included in the town tab), you have to pay the price.

And for the 6.6% extra you’ll cough up toward Kate’s kitty in 2009, the town will throw in an Urban Renewal Plan here, and a Condemnation Proceeding there. [If you dig deep enough into your pocket, you may even get a Victorian-style lamp post, or two.]

Kate Murray. Trusted on Main Street no more!
- - -
From The Three Village Times


Wrong Time to Raise Taxes?
Not for Town of Hempstead

During the Presidential campaign, Republican candidate, Senator John McCain, has said that now is the wrong time to raise taxes. Senator McCain believes with a struggling economy, additional taxes would put another hardship on taxpayers. But don't tell that to the Town of Hempstead. With families hurting with possible escalating oil prices for the winter and a troubled market, Republican Town of Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray plans on increasing taxes for residents of the unincorporated areas of the town such as West Hempstead, Franklin Square and Elmont by 6.6 percent or $45.90 over the 2008 budget, according to Murray's 2009 budget message.

Supervisor Murray cites plummeting mortgage revenues as well as softening sales tax receipts as pressures that come with the 2009 budget. However, the 2009 budget proposal calls for a $4.9 million spending increase over the 2008 budget.

With families hurting financially, residents need their government officials to keep spending in check. However, it seems that the easier solution is to go to the taxpayers for more money in order to feed the machine of government.

The town should at least take a longer look at its budget before having to ask the taxpayers to pay even more money. If you live in Elmont, West Hempstead and Franklin Square, the unincorporated areas, you will find yourself paying more money and what have you gotten in return?

In West Hempstead, many residents simply want the Courtesy Hotel to close. Nothing has happened yet. In Elmont, people want a redevelopment of areas that are underdeveloped. Nothing has happened yet.

Perhaps if the town were to act on some of the projects that never seem to get done, then more revenue will be brought in and there will be no need to ask homeowners to pay more than they are already paying. It's time for the town to do more for these residents than just tax them.

- Joe Rizza

The writer is the editor of the Three Village Times.

No comments:

Post a Comment