By Eden Laikin
County property taxes will remain frozen next year, and police presence will be intensified in local communities, if Nassau County Executive Edward P. Mangano’s proposed budget for 2017 is approved by the Legislature. And, he said, his “No Tax Hike” plan “reflects the progress we have made in improving Nassau County’s economy and quality of life, while at the same time addressing the County’s increased financial obligations.”
The proposed budget calls for hiring 150 new police officers, new public safety officers and 911 operators – which will allow for the formation of special crime prevention units that may be used in anti-terror or active shooter scenarios – as well as for intensified patrols in local communities. It allows for a significant increase in employee termination, healthcare and pension costs, and continues to close the $378 million structural deficit the administration inherited in 2010 and pay down the hundreds of millions of dollars in decades-old debt from unresolved property tax grievances;
In County Executive Mangano’s latest Budget message, he said “significant progress” has been made in repairing the County’s finances – the most notably being toward eliminating borrowing for tax refunds. New legislation means residents will no longer shoulder an unfair share of the tax burden, and a new Residential Settlement Program will save taxpayers $20 million a year, “placing the County on a path to have zero tax certiorari borrowing in 2018.”
“While challenges remain, they will not serve as obstacles to maintaining Nassau County’s quality of life, which has been enhanced by policies of my administration,” he said. “Overall, economic indicators are on the rise in Nassau County. After losing private sector jobs for more than 10 years, good middle-class jobs have begun to return and our population is growing. Home values have increased and Nassau continues to lead the region with the lowest unemployment rate. It’s allowed us to create more than 25,000 new jobs in the County, and attract new companies to relocate their jobs and headquarters here. To build upon this success and protect middle-class families, this Proposed Budget holds the line on property taxes- even as many neighboring municipalities increased property taxes by double-digits.
Schools make up 71% of a homeowner’s tax bill, while County government, makes up about 16%.
“A 20% reduction in the size of government means more money is in our residents’ wallets than in the pocket of government,” County Executive Mangano said. “Our financial progress, includes: about $150 million in annual savings from reducing and consolidating government; budgetary surpluses; requiring new employee contributions to healthcare and pension costs; utilizing cost-cutting public-private partnerships; opening 3,500 new apartments for our young workforce; establishing 60 affordable homes at Mitchel Field for veterans, active duty military and their families.”
The County has been recognized by Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Julian Castro for ending the veteran homelessness crisis in the region. And the 20 17 Proposed Budget also invests in increased services to combat the national heroin epidemic and eradicate the threat of mosquito-borne diseases.
“There is so much to be proud of, and much to look forward to,” County Executive said in closing. “We have an exciting vision for Nassau, which is fast becoming a reality. Our County is on a wonderful path that continues to provide for financial stability. And working together, we can and will continue to provide an affordable government for taxpayers, while maintaining public safety and working tirelessly to make Nassau an even better place to live, work and raise a family.”