Although none of the villages "hot topics" came up at last Thursday's Garden City Board of Trustees meeting, one issue that was discussed by village counsel and the mayor was the state and county's revenue sharing with villages, a topic that is very current in Nassau because of the county executive's original budget which sought to eliminate this procedure for not only the villages but for towns and cities as well.
Revenue sharing gives these municipalities a percentage of the money raised through sales tax. The state has typically participated in revenue sharing, at least to some degree, with the villages and the county has long discussed sharing revenue with the cities and villages the way they do with the towns but all revenue sharing was left out of the county executive's budget.
Village Counsel Gerard Fishberg, on Monday Nov. 13, attended the legislative meeting of the New York Conference of Mayors (NYCOM), the meeting at which their agenda is set for the year, and he discussed this meeting with the village board at their most recent meeting. According to Fishberg, the Nassau County Village Officials Association sent a delegation of approximately 16 people to that meeting, at which time several priorities were set for the year. Fishberg noted that many of the priorities set came from the Nassau County Village Officials Association. He added that the number one priority set was the maintenance of revenue sharing with the state.
Fishberg explained that state revenue sharing has been cut back drastically over a period of many years. Originally, according to Fishberg, there had been a statutory grant requiring that 8 percent of certain state revenues were sent back to the local municipalities. Over a period of time this amount has been cut back severely and it is only within the last couple of years that they have begun to restore the revenue sharing. Currently revenue sharing is at approximately 1 1/2 percent. "It is still a current priority in the Nassau County Village Officials Association as it is with NYCOM to get the restoration of revenue sharing," said Fishberg.
Following Fishberg's statements with regard to revenue sharing, Mayor Harold Hecken stated that the day following the NYCOM legislative meeting, he attended the Nassau County Village Officials Association meeting where revenue sharing was brought up once again. Hecken explained that in County Executive Thomas Gulotta's original budget for Nassau County there was nothing in there for the villages but when the county legislature submitted its budget there was a token amount included for villages. Hecken noted that though the county executive vetoed the legislature's budget, he did leave in the small amount of money for villages. According to Hecken this is only $250,000, which he said amounts to approximately $0.61 per person.
Other items discussed at the recent meeting of the board of trustees included an award received by the police department. The board's liaison to the police department, Brian Murray announced that the Garden City Police Department was one of only 11 departments around the state to receive the Law Enforcement Challenge Award. According to Murray this award was given to the village's police department in recognition of their performance in the New York State Campaign for Safe and Sober Initiatives. Murray and the rest of the board congratulated Police Commissioner Ernest Cipullo for this recognition.
Another topic raised, also pertaining to the police department was brought up during the portion of the meeting that is set aside for citizens' comments. Arnold Fenimore, an officer of the Western Property Owners Association stated that his organization has been questioning the code enforcement within the village. He brought up some examples of code enforcement violations that they felt were not followed through on in recent months such as residents, when the sanitation schedule is changed due to a holiday putting their items out at the wrong time and leaving it at the curb for days at a time and the political signs that were seen around the village before election time. Fenimore said that the WPOA was concerned that these violations were only being handled if a resident called to complain.
Cipullo explained that the police department has picked up on code enforcement violations as they travel throughout the village but noted that they cannot be everywhere and notice every violation. Hecken also noted that there are other problems involved with code enforcement where even though the police have spoken to the residents and issued summons the residents don't adhere to the village codes. He cited one example where a code enforcement officer went to a home and removed a political sign and as soon as they left the resident put the sign back up. He commended the police department for their efforts in the area of code enforcement and noted that the village receives over $1 million in fines from code enforcement violations.