At the last board meeting, as has been the custom, the New Hyde Park/Garden City Park School Board, during the budget process, reserved time at the beginning of the meeting to hear what residents feel is too important to be cut from the budget.
This is especially important since the state has imposed a 2 percent tax cap on all school districts.
Recently, the New York State Mandate Council met on Long Island for the first time, at SUNY Old Westbury to hear testimony from local government leaders on ideas for mandate relief measures.
The council was created as a means to review certain mandates that are placed on school districts and local governments to see if there are regulations that can be changed or eliminated in order to provide relief to local communities.
The event, orchestrated by North Hempstead Town Clerk Leslie Gross, has grown every year. Last year, there were 60 couples and this year couples had to be turned away, it has become such a popular event.
The only criteria is for the couples to be married at least 50 years and to live in the Town of North Hempstead.
“All parks, fields and playgrounds owned by the village are for the exclusive use of village residents and their guests except that a non-resident may utilize a park as a member of an organized activity sponsored or sanctioned by the board of trustees.”
Mayor Daniel Petruccio commented, “I don’t think the board is under any illusion that this will close the parks to every possible scenario. However, if we do have a problem then we have another layer of protection and can say, “Are you a resident?” However, if we issued passes, as has been suggested, we would have to check everybody’s passes, if we went that road. For us we thought this is the closest thing we could come to in order to have some amount of control in the parks.
(The following is a statement released by William Carr who has announced he is a candidate for a Williston Park Village Trustee at large.)
I, William B. Carr, have been a resident of the Village of Williston Park since 2002. My wife Catherine and I are the proud parents of four children, Liam, Joseph, Veronica and Rusty.
I grew up in Freeport, New York and graduated from Freeport High School in 1992 and served as a volunteer firefighter in the Freeport Fire Department for 6 years.
Football season may be officially over but that did not stop New York Giants captain and Super Bowl XLVI champion Justin Tuck from indulging in the team’s traditional pizza Friday during a visit to Umberto’s Pizzeria & Restaurant of New Hyde Park on Friday, Feb. 9.
As packs of fans gathered to catch a glimpse of their hero outside the popular neighborhood restaurant, inside Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano and other county officials presented Tuck with the keys to the county and a citation for his work promoting children’s literacy through his R.U.S.H. for Literacy foundation.
An excited Mangano thanked Nassau County football fans for their enthusiasm and emphasized the positive economic impact the Giants’ Super Bowl XLVI win had on the local economy. He equally praised Tuck’s accomplishments on and off the football field. “He is a charitable man, he gives back,” Mangano said. “It’s such a breath of fresh air when you see someone succeed and they pause to give back to those who would otherwise not have opportunity. He really is a symbol of the American dream,” Mangano added.
At the last Herricks School Board meeting Herricks Facilities Director James Brown outlined the cost-saving plan he is implementing to streamline his department and to bring down costs.
Prior to his presentation, Herricks Superintendent Dr. Jack Bierwirth said, “We will need everyone’s cooperation to make this plan work and everyone’s forbearance as there will certainly be unexpected and unintended glitches which will need to be resolved, as the plan is implemented.
“The pay-off is that this will avoid deeper cuts in instructional programs and staffing now and in the future/and or more drastic changes in the operations of our facilities. The changes in behavior required of all of us seem both reasonable and worth the effort in the context.”
Numerous Long Island lawmakers, joined by both the Nassau and Suffolk County Executives, plus Town of Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray, and Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos were out in force last Friday, calling for further reductions in the MTA payroll tax.
The press conference, held at the Nassau County Executive & Legislative Building, introduced state legislation (S-6206), one co-authored by State Senators Jack Martins (R-Mineola) and Lee Zeldin (R,C,I-Shirley). The bill would exempt villages, towns, and counties in New York State from the MTA payroll tax. Municipalities in New York State, both lawmakers said, currently pay a .34 percent tax per $100 of payroll to pay for the MTA.
“Property taxpayers paying for village, town and county services should not have their hard-earned tax dollars diverted to subsidize the MTA through this payroll tax,” Senator Martins said. “We need to alleviate some of the burdens placed on our local governments. This legislation does that and the result will be relief for our taxpayers, something we desperately need.”
Carrying signs that read “Save Our Police Precincts,” “Precincts Save Lives” and “Keep Crime Out of Nassau,” dozens of police officers, firefighters and Nassau County residents converged on the Theodore Roosevelt Executive and Legislative Building on Monday, Feb. 6, to protest a committee vote on closing down four precinct houses and turning them into community policing centers.
Speakers warned of increases in both the workloads for detectives and response time for police officers on patrol if the proposed precinct closings are approved by the Nassau County Legislature. The precincts in question are the First, Fifth, Sixth, and Eighth Precincts.
The day ended with public comments made before the Public Safety Committee. Presiding Officer Peter J. Schmitt also announced that there would be public hearings on the matter on Monday, Feb. 13 at 11 a.m. in front of the Public Safety Committee and another hearing on Monday, Feb. 27 in front of the full legislature.
At the rally, Jim Carver, the Nassau County Police Benevolent Association (PBA) president, said that precinct stations are more than places where people file accident reports. They are also places that receive hundreds of incidents “private in nature.” Carver was also critical of Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano for proposing the closings while the county spends “tens of millions” of dollars to refurbish what Carver called a “political building” on West Street, directly adjacent to where the rally was held.
The speakers agreed that savings need to be made in the county budget. Gary Learned, president of the Nassau County Superior Officers (SOA), said the county should look at uncollected funds from traffic costs, which he said would save $44 million. Another speaker, Pat Nicolosi, a civic association leader in Elmont, said that “hundreds of millions” could be saved if the county would “get out” of both the road and assessment aspects of the budget, transferring those items, instead, to town governments. Nicolosi said precinct closings would increase response time from police officers, a situation that he believed would prove especially dire for Elmont, as he recounted crime problems in that village. Another Elmont resident, Vincente Miligros, said she had collected 78 signatures in an hour-and-a-half of petitioning, all by local residents who wished to keep her local precinct open.
Town of North Hempstead Supervisor Jon Kaiman also lent his support to the PBA, asking the legislature not to “sacrifice [this] fundamental service.” In all, Carver asked that the legislature “slow down the process until our questions are answered,” adding that that body needs to find “different ways of saving money.” He was also critical of the legislature for scheduling a meeting at, as he termed it, “the last minute” which he claimed was done to reduce any opposition presence at the committee vote.
County Executive Mangano issued his own statement on the rally, singling out two Democratic Party legislators, Richard Scannell and Carrie Solages, for “playing politics with public safety.”
“I refuse to play politics with public safety,” the statement read, claiming that the PBA’s opposition is, in part, political in nature. “I understand why the PBA opposes my plan that reduces costly police overtime and eliminates unnecessary administrative positions, saving residents millions in higher taxes. I don’t understand why a few legislators are opposing saving residents up to $20 million. One has to question whether the PBA’s $600,000 in political contributions has something to do with their fear-mongering approach to the issue.
I had a choice. I could raise property taxes 19 percent or I could cut spending, including a long overdue reorganization of the police department. I chose to cut spending because I will not raise property taxes in this economy. The police reorganization plan takes cops from behind desks and reassigns them to community policing while keeping the same number of patrol cars on our streets.
“Residents should not be fooled by the PBA’s scare tactics,” the statement continued. “When you dial 911, the call goes to a 911 Call Center in New Cassel, then to the police car in your neighborhood. That will not change under this plan as all 177 patrol cars remain in their current neighborhoods. The three-dozen police officers earning six-figure salaries that staff administrative desk jobs in the back office of the police precinct will now be moved. Currently, these officers are restricted by contractual rules from leaving their position to assist the public. They must man these positions 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and do not have police cars at their disposal. This plan consolidates these administrative desk positions within four precincts while keeping all eight current buildings open—four as precincts and four as Community Policing Centers [“COP Plan”].
“In order to change the status quo, Nassau legislators must stand up to the special interests groups,” the statement concluded. “I trust that a majority of Nassau County Legislators will do so, as we must protect both public safety and family budgets.”
Prior to the last Herricks School Board meeting at the high school, the board met with the high school students for the purpose of hearing their comments and suggestions regarding the school.
The first student to speak was the president of the student council, Natalie Quan, who said that she and members of the student council had carefully read the budget and she noted it said that class sizes could become larger.
She said, “How realistic is that because I know that class sizes have gotten larger, from the past few years, and in my classes now there aren’t even enough desks for some kids. So, I’m thinking even extra help sessions are not as personal as they used to be and if we go to the computer lab sometimes there aren’t even enough computers for us to use. The books and supplies and are not enough. So, I’m asking, how much larger are we looking at?”
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