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Topping The Tax Cap?

Massapequa Park will hold a public hearing next week to discuss the possibility of exceeding the tax cap when the budget is adopted in April.

In order to exceed the tax cap, a municipality must first pass a law, enabling it to do so. It is quite common for municipalities to pass such a law in case it is necessary to do so, even though the tax cap ceiling is not superseded. However, Mayor James Altadonna seemed to indicate that the village might indeed be doing so.

In speaking about the possibility at a recent board meeting, Altadonna said that the costs incurred due to Hurricane Sandy would likely make it necessary for Massapequa Park to exceed the cap. He later spoke with the Massapequan Observer, and said that Colleran Park sustained damages during the storm, which must be repaired.

Unlike school districts, which are required to get a 60 percent supermajority vote in order to enact a budget which exceeds the tax cap, a municipality such as Massapequa Park only needs at least 60 percent approval from its governing body. For Massapequa Park, this would require at least three of the five board members to approve a budget increase that exceeds the tax cap.

In other news, the mayor said that plans are advancing towards bringing a triage center to the village. Altaddonna has been lobbying for an emergency room facility in which triage patients could be treated and stabilized before being sent home or to another facility for further care. He says that with the closure of Brunswick and Massapequa hospitals, there needs to be an emergency treatment center in the village so that emergency responders have a closer facility to bring triage patients to when time is critical. Currently, the closest facility to the village is St. Joseph’s Hospital in Bethpage.

The mayor said that a letter has been sent out regarding property where the proposed facility would be located. Altadonna said the property is on Sunrise Highway, but did not disclose an exact location.

“I’m pretty positive that we’re making some progress,” he said.

Additionally, in response to a question from a resident, the mayor discussed the possibility of the village launching its own police force. He said that because of the reduction in police officers, the village is not sufficiently being served. He further said that whenever an incident occurs at the Sunrise Mall, including minor infractions such as petit larceny, a Seventh Precinct officer assigned to the village is called away to attend to it. Altadonna emphasized that he has no issues with the officers of the Seventh Precinct, but said there is simply not enough of them to patrol the village adequately.

In response to a question about what launching a police force what cost, Altadonna said that village officials would look at that aspect very carefully before a determination is made. The mayor said that the village currently pays Nassau County to have police officers patrol the village, and it would have to be determined how the costs of a village police force would compare.

Another resident suggested that the village launch a public safety unit instead of a police force.

However, Altadonna downplayed that suggestion as the village would have to pay for the costs of such a unit and would then still have to pay Nassau County to have police officers patrol the area.

At the beginning of the meeting, a presentation was made to a group of seniors  from the Massapequa Park Senior Center, affectionately known as the “Brady Bunch.” The group does volunteer work throughout the village and sends care packages as one of its charitable endeavors.

“Thank you for reaffirming that Massapequa and Massapequa Park care about other people and care about our country,” Altadonna told the group.