After working with contractors, builders, labor officials and chambers of commerce, Legislator Dave Mejias unveiled the New Deal for Nassau in an effort to stimulate the local economy, make it less complicated for businesses to operate and draw new entrepreneurs, jobs and contracts, as well as help local villages avoid the red tape when it comes to building up their communities.
Nassau County Legislator Dave Mejias (at podium) announces the New Deal for Nassau on Main Street in Farmingdale. He is joined by Jeffrey H. Greenfield, chair of the NC Planning Commission, NC Comptroller Howard Weitzman, Legislator Dave Denenberg and Farmingdale Village Mayor Butch Starkie.
On Farmingdale's Village Green with Mayor George "Butch" Starkie and several labor representatives present, Mejias informed residents that the worldwide economic downturn has hit Nassau County residents and business owners particularly hard.
"Not since the 1980s has Nassau County had a decline in its sales tax revenue," he added. "For the first time in history, the county could face back-to-back negative sales tax growth. This downturn also continues to hammer at the Long Island job market. In 2007 the unemployment was 3.9 percent in Nassau County. We expect it to rise to 7 percent by the end of the year. That's the highest it's been here on Long Island in a very long time."
Referring to President Barack Obama's address to Congress on Feb. 24, Mejias added, "Now is the time to jumpstart job creation and the New Deal for Nassau will do just that."
According to Mejias, the New Deal for Nassau is designed to cut through red tape and bureaucracy in the rules and regulations that have made doing business in Nassau County more difficult.
"We cannot create a blue ribbon panel or a commission to write a report six months down the road," Mejias said. "This starts right now."
Mejias said it actually already began with the passing of the 2009 Nassau County Capital Budget and the 2009 - 2012 Capital Improvement Plan last month.
"It will provide nearly $204 million in 2009 for road and park improvement, infrastructure and major projects," he added. "That is going to create hundreds if not thousands of jobs in Nassau County for the people that need it the most."
"That allows Nassau County to become first in line for any stimulus money that may come out of the government," Mejias added.
Mejias noted that he and Legislator Dave Denenberg (D-Merrick) and Presiding Officer Diane Yatauro (D-Glen Cove) worked with Republicans in a bi-partisan way to "make sure that that Capital Plan was passed immediately."
In these dire economic times, business owners need all the help they can get," Legislator Yatauro said. "By cutting the red tape and improving the way government processes information we are making life easier for Nassau businesses. This translates into revenue and creating jobs. These initiatives couldn't have come at a better time."
A portion of this New Deal involves streamlining the Planning Commission.
Legislator Denenberg, chairperson of the Public Works and Planning Committees, said, "We are going to be the first municipality to have a major overhaul of the 1950s code ordinances."
Mejias said these outdated building codes are causing local business to fail "because the bureaucracies are taking too long for them to actually get their business off the ground."
He mentioned an instance regarding a Farmingdale businesses that failed because of an element of bureaucracy that they didn't even know about until the end of the zoning process and then they had to start all over again in the county.
"We want to make it very clear that we are very business-friendly here in Nassau County and we want to make sure that businesses grow and preserve our quality of life here," Mejias said. "Most people don't just want a handout. They don't just want government to get in the way. They want government to make the process a little bit easier for them so that they can continue to live their American dream."
Jeff Greenfield, chair of the Nassau County Planning Commission, announced the results of a study to help overhaul planning regulations:
- only require electronic filing
- take 30 days off the approval process by changing the review process
- make notice provisions similar to villages and town
- lot size determinations be given to villages and towns
- make the appeals process smoother and quicker
"The whole goal of our undertaking is simplification of the process," Greenfield said.
Mayor Starkie said several businesses have complained to the village about planning processes regarding overlapping services.
"Businesses are paying out thousands and thousands of dollars in rent for six months before they can even begin ringing their cash registers," he added. "I'm very optimistic that this process will help us. I'm hoping that you invite our building superintendent down to your hearings as they progress because he's the guy that actually goes out. The repetition and replication of inspection boggles my mind."
Nassau County Comptroller Howard Weitzman said his department is also streamlining services.
"With the Capital Budget and the Economic Stimulus Plan, we are going to expedite all those contracts that come through," Weitzman said. "As soon as those contracts get awarded we're going to make sure we do our part to make sure that those jobs can get started and put people to work.
Weitzman said his office also recently began testing an electronic payment option for county vendors.
"Even in these difficult economic times we can make changes to improve our business climate," he added.