Nassau County Comptroller Howard S. Weitzman's audits of Nassau County's 140 special town-taxing districts have been the driving force behind proposed reforms at the state level, the comptroller reports. He added that "Besides a ground swell of support from citizen and good government action groups, it seems that someone else has been listening, too. Tom Brokaw recently took up the issue of special taxing districts in his April 20 New York Times op-ed piece "Small Town Spending," in which he says it's "time to reorganize our state and local government structures for today's realities rather than cling to the sensibilities of the 20th century."

Mr. Brokaw writes, "It is estimated that New York State has about 10,500 local government entities, from townships to counties to special districts. A year ago a bipartisan state commission said that New Yorkers could save more than a billion dollars a year by consolidating and sharing local government responsibilities..."

Comptroller Weitzman, who served on that commission, called the New York State Commission on Local Government Efficiency and Competitiveness, has stated hundreds of times in the past several years that when commissioner-run special districts cost more and towns can do it cheaper, towns should provide the service. Weitzman says that Nassau County taxpayers would save at least $16 million if the towns took over the operations from sanitation district commissioners. Weitzman also supports abolishing salaries and perks for commissioners.

"I am glad that Mr. Brokaw took up this crucial issue in his latest opinion piece for The New York Times," Weitzman said. "The more light we shine on special districts, the better for taxpayers throughout the state. In the current economic downturn, it is more critical than ever that we end patronage-driven spending and lower the property tax burden on Nassau families."

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