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Letter: County Financial Report Card

The Financial condition of the County continues to improve by all fundamental measures, primarily due to the improving economy and cost controls instituted by the Mangano administration. From residents’ point of view, the County’s improved financial state is reflected in the county portion of their property tax bill, which has not increased in the last four years.

 

The mid-year financial projections for 2013 indicate that the County will end the year with a $5.6 million budgetary surplus. This follows on the heels of 2012’s surplus of $41.5 million, now confirmed by independent auditors.  These budget surpluses are due to increased sales tax revenues from the improving economy (up 10.4 percent year to date) and reduced Social Service costs due to lower unemployment (down to 6 percent, one of the lowest rates in New York

State and lower than that of Suffolk County and New York City.)

 

All other financial fundamentals also continue to improve, including the structural gap, property tax refunds due to assessment corrections and the County’s long term debt.  I’ll address these three points in turn.

 

The County’s structural gap (the difference between current expenses and recurring revenues) continues its year-over-year improvement since 2009. The structural gap is projected at a seven year low of $54.4 million, down from $116.9 million in 2012 – a 53.5 percent improvement over one year ago - and down from $251.6 million in 2009 - a 78.4 percent improvement over four years.  

 

The County’s growing liability for property tax refunds appears to have been addressed and is expected to decline.   The County’s average payouts have been reduced to about $60.3 million annually for the last four years, down from an annual average of $93 million under the previous administration.  This decrease does not come at the expense of homeowners: it is due to a more aggressive policy on the part of the Mangano Administration of challenging commercial grievances.

 

It is worth noting, given the public debate about the county debt, that the long term debt increased only modestly due to 47 percent lower new borrowing over the last four years compared with the period of 2006-2009. The total projected year end 2013 debt of $3.595 billion is quite manageable and only about 30 percent higher than the annual budgetary revenues of the County. Most families manage mortgages that are 300 percent to 400 percent of their family’s annual income.

 

Although the County’s financial fundamentals have improved by all measures, the County continues to face fiscal challenges. The wage freeze currently challenged in the courts is the greatest potential liability, estimated at $230 million by year’s end.  To protect the County’s improving financial state, the County needs to address this risk in the 2014 Multi-Year Plan or resolve it through collective bargaining. 

George Maragos 


News

The New Hyde Park-Garden City Park School District is planning improvements to a district that has already seen much success in recent years. The school year has only just begun and the Board of Ed is already setting its sights on the future. 

 

At the Sept. 8 board of education meeting, Superintendent Robert Katulak’s monthly report outlined the major goals set for the district last month. While approved in August, the three goals were made available to the public this month and each target different areas for improvement throughout the district. 

 

The first goal deals with English Language Learners (ELL) within the student population. ELL students are those that speak a language other than English at home and score below proficient on assessments. 

Senator Jack Martins discussed education, business and drug use among other topics in a an exclusive interview with this newspaper and FiOS 1 News. He’s currently seeking re-election in November, being challenged by Democrat Adam Haber. Pointing to what he called “key legislation,” particularly the tax cap legislation passed in 2011 and prescription drug bill he helped shepherd to enactment, Martins feels New York State is on track to continue fiscal responsibility.

 

“In these last four years, we’ve had four balanced budgets, we’ve cut taxes working together, we have paid off debt, streamlined government, kept spending below 2 percent each one of those years,” Martins said.


Sports

Sewanhaka boys soccer coach Peter Burgess wasn’t sure how long his team’s playoff drought was when it was broken last season. 

 

“Somebody said it was 13 years,” said Burgess, whose entering his fourth year coaching varsity. “But I think it was five or six, I don’t know maybe longer.”

 

But one thing’s for certain, he wants to keep last year’s momentum going. 

 

The Indians, who started their season with a 3-0 loss at Hewlett, will aim for their second straight trip to the playoffs this year. 

The Sewanhaka Indians made their Nassau Conference II debut with a bang.  The Indians opened their season at home against the Calhoun Colts, unsure what to expect, as all they had ever seen of the Colts was one tape of a scrimmage. 

 

“It was nerve raking leading up to the game,” said Head Coach George Kasimatis. “We weren’t sure what to expect on offense or defense, you have to guess early on. “

 

But it didn’t take the Indians long to introduce themselves to the conference, as junior, Quarterback, Elijah Tracey broke a 75-yard run taking it the distance to put the Indians up early, which ended in a 27-7 rout of the Colts. 


Calendar

Town Zoning Meeting - September 17

Herricks Meeting - September 18

Bike Safety Day - September 21


Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com

The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
Written by Mike Barry, MFBarry@optonline.net

Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com