Rodgers and Hammerstein would be proud of the acting, song and dance of cast members, the delightful orchestral performances and all the talented and energetic young people who worked so efficiently behind the scenes. The musical Oklahoma at Floral Park Memorial High School proved to be all it could be. The music department should know the senior citizens attending the late afternoon show felt like they were in a Broadway theater - what talent, stage presence and enthusiasm. It was a nice gesture to invite the seniors.
The village will be mailing the annual budget message to residents very soon. Over the past year and more intensely over the past four months, the village board, library board and department managers have been preparing the tentative operating budget for the 2004-05 fiscal year. The annual budget hearing will be held April 14 at 8 p.m. at village hall at which time the budget will be presented to the public and discussed in detail.
Factors have affected municipal budgets throughout the state and Long Island - increased insurance costs, low interest earning rates, increases in garbage disposal costs and more. The budget message will provide residents and property owners detailed information on the budget. I am pleased to inform the public that Floral Park financial stability has enabled us to endure increased costs and at the same time keep the proposed tax increase at a minimum. In this climate of double digit tax increases in neighboring villages in the county, the village board is proposing a tax rate of $7.96 per $100 of assessment (village assessment roll, not the county's), an increase of 4.8 percent, a very reasonable increase in these economic times. The total budget for the next fiscal year 2004-05 is $18,967,798. Last year it was $18,085,212.
Floral Park is one of a handful of "full service" villages that provides police and fire protection, library services, a year round recreation program, a building department and a public works department with 14 sub-departments, including park, street, storm drain, tree, highway, lighting, parking lot, sanitation, recycling and others. Residents are reminded the swimming pool program still remains a self-sustaining program and therefore is not supported by tax dollars.
When the five LIRR representatives were here in Floral Park to look at the unsatisfactory conditions at their station, I asked them about the plans for a third track connecting Queens Village and Hicksville. They said they were not privy to any additional information than what was reported in Newsday. Federal money has been allocated for the development of a plan to address the need for expanded rail services in the metropolitan area.
A proposal to add a third track and address dangerous rail crossings, in New Hyde Park, have been discussed for a number of years. In a letter to the village in September 2003, Acting President Demody responded to our inquiry regarding the third track proposal. His letter states, "Among the LIRR's long-term capital plans is a proposal to construct a third track on our Main Line to allow greater operating efficiency and scheduling flexibility. If constructed, a third Main Line track would likely begin east of Bellerose, where the two tracks of the Hempstead Branch swing away from the Main Line, currently leaving just two tracks to accommodate Main Line trains. The third track would continue through Hicksville.
"Although this proposal is considered a key infrastructure need for the railroad, a source of funding has yet to be identified. If this project goes forward, as with any project of this type, the railroad would reach out to the public, seeking input from the community and elected officials, and would be required to file an Environmental Impact Statement in compliance with the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) before an work would commence."
It appears that the federal government allocated funding to develop a plan for this capital project. The firm that will develop the plans has not bee selected. This will be done through the bidding process.
Because this complex matter must be fully explored and dealt with in a manner that will best serve the interests of the village, I have established a special task force dedicated to deal with the "LIRR Third Track" proposal. Further, I will be urging the Nassau County Village Officials to establish its own task force to deal with the matter and support our interests as a member village.