Supervisor May Newburger
''I have tried to put the town's house in order,'' North Hempstead Town Supervisor May Newburger told Anton Newspapers in a recent interview. During her eight years in office, Supervisor Newburger has brought North Hempstead ''from the lowest to the highest bond rating,'' starting with an $8 million debt left over from the Republicans and, four terms later, boasting a $5-and-a-half million surplus.
Now running for re-election once again, the supervisor noted that the town has had two bond rating increases in three years, ''the first time ever.'' North Hempstead also has the first debt management plan ever developed for a Long Island town. ''We have been applauded by the state comptroller ... Moody's gives us high ratings ... Long Island Business News rates us high too ... this is the truth, these are the facts,'' she emphasized. Supervisor Newburger was also quick to point out that ''people have heard lots of numbers thrown about ... they are inaccurate at best, false at worst.'' Her numbers come from impartial groups that rate municipalities.
She went on to explain North Hempstead's debt reduction plan, a plan that will, at the end of 10 years, reduce debt by $100 million. ''The plan sets parameters for how much debt can be issued each year for the next 10 years.''
Stressing the importance of her strong fiscal record, the supervisor also made a point of stating that her administration has also ''reduced spending a lot.''
In addition to her fiscal record, Supervisor Newburger places a great deal of importance on her work for the environment. ''We are very proud that last year 72 percent of the voters supported the Environmental Legacy Fund,'' she said. The ELF advisory committee already has its first set of recommendations set.
The supervisor also said that a major portion of this funding will go toward preserving open space. The town has begun a nature trail around the harbor, with the ultimate goal being a trail that extends from Bar Beach to Great Neck.
And along these lines, Supervisor Newburger also spoke of the town's new golf course that has ''won almost every award.'' This project has been a ''special accomplishment,'' according to the supervisor, considering that her administration began with this Morewood property (and its heavy debt) and still has $2 million in taxes for debt service ''and we get nothing.'' Her administration has now reduced the debt ($33 million for an incinerator the residents did not want) and reclaimed the land.
In reclaiming the land, 42 acres were sold for senior housing and the town is now using the $26 million to pay down the Morewood debt and build the golf course. The next step is to plan for a clubhouse to finish the highly successful golf complex, trying to plan not to cost taxpayer money.
The town is also in the process of closing the last landfill. The closings, and building the transfer station, are all government mandated, and so the town did have to issue debt. However, once this debt and the golf course are paid off, the golf course will prove an external source of income for the town.
Another ''important area'' highlighted by Supervisor Newburger is the desire for affordable housing. ''We want to work faster ... but land is scarce, its hard to find a developer and the town can't build.'' She explained that the town can make recommendations, and maybe help with some funding. One affordable housing development is going up in New Cassel, with 37 units. The supervisor is also anxious to try to find housing for young people, who are otherwise forced to move from the area.
And, as the interview wound down, Supervisor Newburger focused on her desire for a cultural arts commission for the town. Toward this end, she has spoken with Great Neck Arts Center Executive Director Regina Gil, local actress Shirley Romaine, and Connie Schwartz from the Nassau County Museum of Art. The plan would be for the town to support local cultural arts as well as work with the already established organizations. ''This is long overdue,'' she said. As well, Joan Kent has been hired to do a history of the town.
And since Sept. 11, the town has held a memorial service, held blood drives, worked with local firefighters and police, and turned donations over to WTC funds.
In closing, Supervisor Newburger reiterated, ''We put the town back on its feet fiscally ... we are in good shape.''
May Newburger is ready for a fifth term.