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Reps Urge No Double Dealing

Local Republicans are urging Interim Town of North Hempstead Supervisor John Riordan to schedule a final vote on the town budget before the Nov. 5 election.

For the past two years, Supervisor Jon Kaiman submitted a budget that falls below New York State’s tax cap then after Election Day submitted a budget that breaks the cap, said Councilwoman Dina DeGiorgio, a candidate for supervisor. Kaiman resigned Sept. 23 after submitting a draft 2014 budget.

“The public has a right to know where their elected officials stand on the budget before they go to the polls,” DeGiorgio said.

In fiscal 2012, the tax levy increased approximately 2.8 percent, while in fiscal 2013 the tax levy increased 4.1 percent, according to Newsday. Percent tax increase was not readily available from the Town of North Hempstead.

The town council pierced the tax cap for fiscal 2012 and 2013 without Republican votes. Democrats currently make up a supermajority of the town council and would not require Republican support to break the tax cap. DeGiorgio and Angelo Ferrara, also a Republican, have promised to vote against any budget that goes above the tax cap.  

“We talk about transparency in government,” Ferrara said. “Why would we not want to have a budget before Election Day?

Riordan and fellow council Democrats declined to comment, but they are committed to moving forward with the current budget, which falls within the tax cap, said Ryan Mulholland, a spokesman for the Town of North Hempstead.

The proposed tax levy increase for fiscal 2014 is 1.65 percent, while the tax levy cap is 1.66 percent, according to town documents.

State law requires a budget hearing by the Thursday after Election Day and a final budget to be adopted by Nov. 20, according to a statement from Riordan.

“North Hempstead has conducted its budget process according to those guidelines for the past 15 years and as Interim Supervisor I will not make any structural changes to the budget process,” according to the statement. “If the new administration, which takes office January 1st, chooses to change the process, they will exercise that prerogative when that time comes.”

A budget hearing will be held on Nov. 7, followed by a final vote that day or on Nov. 19, Mulholland said.

Nassau County, the Town of Hempstead, and the Town of Oyster Bay all hold final budget votes before Election Day, DeGiorgio said.

A final vote on the town budget before election day is also supported by Town Clerk Leslie Gross, a democrat running for reelection on the Republican line, and town council candidates Anthony Bulzomi and Jeff Benjamin.

There is a consensus that the 2014 budget will be approved by the town council without breaking the tax cap, said Legislator Judi Bosworth (D-Great Neck), a Nassau County councilwoman who is running for town supervisor, in a statement.

“The most appropriate time to consider possible changes in scheduling of the annual budget hearing would be when a new Town administration takes office next year, not as a last-minute political ploy,” according to the statement.