Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Nassau County's Royal Flush?

Exec Looks To Imose Fee For Water On Exempt, High Volume Users

Imagine that. Taxing the local Fire District (turnabout is fair play, we suppose), for using water. Okay, they call it a fee, which, by any other name, is a tax.

Hmmm. Taxing the heretofore exempt, and imposing user fees on those who use run water down the drain as if it fell from the sky. What next? Taxing heretofore tax exempt entities -- like the church* -- for all the property they own in the county?

Wait a minute. Maybe that's not such a bad idea after all. . .

*The new fee, by the way, would not apply to religious organizations who own property in the county. Thank God. The holy water is safe!
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From the Long Island Herald:

Legislator: ‘Toilet tax’ could cost taxpayers

By Deirdre Krasula

When firefighters wash down their trucks after making on a run, they may have to pay a fee on that water. Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano, a Republican from Bethpage, has proposed a water use fee in the county’s 2011 budget. At a news conference in front of the North Merrick firehouse on Friday, Nassau County Legislator Dave Denenberg said the fee is really a tax.

Standing with members of tax-exempt organizations, Denenberg, a Democrat from Merrick, explained how fire departments, school districts and libraries would be affected by what he called the “toilet tax.” The county ordinance states, “The county is hereby authorized to impose service charges upon exempt users and high water users for the use of services of sewage facilities maintained by the district.” The fee is intended to help pay for the county’s sewer facilities, but the county doesn’t use sewer meters, but rather water meters, Denenberg noted.

Based on water use, that could mean big bills for previously exempt organizations. Each facility would have to pay one cent for every gallon of water used. That would mean that the North Merrick Fire Department, which uses 700,000 gallons of water a year, would pay a $7,000 fee.

Denenberg said he was angered that the county executive would be willing to draw revenue from tax-exempt organizations like school districts and libraries. “The county’s idea for revenue is to force tax-exempt organizations … to pay a sewer fee,” he said. “Passing along taxes to other districts is not freezing taxes.”

Dr. James Tolle, executive director of the Nassau County Council of School Superintendents, noted that schools across the county use water primarily for field irrigation. Mary Jo O’Hagan, vice president of the Nassau Suffolk School Board Association, and a member of the Baldwin School Board, noted that such a fee would cost Baldwin School District $132,000 a year — the equivalent of two staff positions. Tolle added that Nassau County school districts could not afford the fee. If put in place, the fee would be “passed on to the taxpayer, or we would have to cut programs,” he said.

The fee, if passed, would take effect July 1, 2011. In the first six months it was in place, it could bring in $19 million in revenue and $38 million in the following full year.

At press time, Mangano’s office could not be reached for comment.

Comments about this story? DKrasula@liherald.com or (516) 569-4000 ext. 234.


  1. Mangnano is(A)clearly desperate to improve the budget situation, which is already running into resistance from unions and all manner of other interest groups even while NIFA is sending a clear signal that they may find it necessary to get directly involved if the county's fiscal situation doesn't improve; (B) boxed in by his campaign commitment to deliver a "tax revolt", that at this point seems about as likely as Carl Paladino becoming the next governor of New York and (C)too late, at this point, to keep blaming everything on Suozzi.

    The solution? Create a bunch of new fees and push as much expense as possible on to school districts, fire districts, and any other blame kind of district you can think of. Not that these models of efficiency don't have enough sandbags within their own budgets to take a few hits, but of course all they'll do now is turn around and raise their taxes.

    Some tax revolt.

  2. Since we have a large number of special taxing districts in Nassau County, Mangano is somewhat limited in what he can do to save taxpayer dollars.

    A solution would be to consolidate these special taxing districts and put them under the County's control. Mangano then would have many more options available to him to reduce spending.

    When are Long Islanders going to realize that the so called "local control" we have is the very reason why our property taxes are "out of control".