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From The Desk Of Legislator Delia DeRiggi-Whitton: March 8, 2013

County Guaranty – School Taxes

We are winning a fight against higher taxes. In 2010, rather than fix the assessment system that creates your tax bill, County Executive Edward Mangano repealed what is known as the “County Guaranty.”

His move would push expenses onto other governments and schools, forcing them to cover for his mistakes when your property is wrongly assessed and you are due a refund. This would likely mean higher taxes for you.

The Democratic Caucus here in the Nassau County Legislature fought the county executive on this in 2010. When I proudly joined that caucus last year, I adamantly opposed his idea and have actively supported its repeal.

Last week, my caucus was proven correct. A New York State Appellate Division panel has ruled that Mangano’s action “violates the New York Constitution.”

All four judges on the panel, including a prominent Republican, voted unanimously against County Executive Mangano’s move.

This is a very important victory for taxpayers, who would have had about $80 million annually pushed down to other entities, like their schools and towns. Nassau wouldn’t be taxing you any less, but the schools and towns would need more money from you to cover higher expenses and taxes pushed over from the county.

I hope that the County Executive does not appeal this court decision and waste any more taxpayer money on legal fees. Another appeal would cause already stressed school districts to possibly cut back on education in order to reserve money while they wait to find out if they have to use it to pay for Nassau’s mistakes.

Finally, for schools in my district like Locust Valley, North Shore School, Oyster Bay and Jericho, this ruling should bring great relief.  As far as Glen Cove, I know that something still has to be done about the unfair way we pay twice for tax refunds. I have been meeting with my legal advisors and will make every effort to see that the county re-examine the issue.

Crescent Beach

In my last column I vowed to follow up on Crescent Beach, where septic contamination has been polluting Hempstead Harbor and forcing beach closure for many summers.

I am happy to report some encouraging news. It appears that Nassau County Department of Health has tracked a lot of the faulty cesspools that were causing the contamination and now the salt water may actually be clean.

This is a great sign that we should stay full steam ahead with all plans for Crescent Beach, including connecting the area to the Nassau County Sewer System. I will continue working on grant possibilities so that homeowners will not bear a major expense. Some promising developments may in fact be on the horizon.

As I push forward on this, we will need the support of County Executive Edward Mangano. Soon I will be announcing a non-partisan citizen task force focused on local wastewater issues, including Crescent Beach. Hopefully we can all push for cleaner waters, a healthier environment and an open beach!