Opinion

With local government being held accountable these days, Nassau County should be no different. Most of Hicksville residents should have all received their new tax assessments. If you haven't noticed, look on the back of the letter from the department of assessment, as well as on their website. There are charts demonstrating how the county is now the smallest piece of your property tax and school districts account for the majority of taxes paid by residents, followed by towns, villages and special districts, then the county. As the county theme continues "don't blame us, blame everyone else." Once again the message and the facts are conveniently misleading

Taking school districts out of the equation for now, in Hicksville, the county remains as it has for many years the largest piece of the pie chart in taxes, disguising it over 14 lines on our tax bill. The county makes up about 23 percent of the bill, the town, 13 percent and special districts (water and fire) less that 5 percent. Moreover, between the fire and water they have either reduced or leveled their tax rates the past few years, maybe the county should take lessons in financial oversight from these two special districts instead of trying to make them the bad guys. Special Districts seem to have it right in Hicksville.

Ah yes, school districts, the real issue according to the county, but what they fail to mention is that the county has other means of raising revenue that are not available to school districts or special districts. An example, Nassau County collected over $1 billion in sales tax revenue last year in addition to other taxes and fees paid by county residents, which again is misleading.__ State aid and property taxes account for nearly all the revenue available to school districts.

Property tax is the only revenue for the fire district and property tax and water usage is predominately the only revenue for the water district. School districts have many unfunded federal and state mandates, shrinking lottery funding and Long Island's continuing reduction in state aid. At a time when the county executive, governor and comptroller are pressuring special districts, school districts and the towns to work together and reduce costs, I would think that the department of assessment would publish the "real" story and not mislead or insult the residents of Hicksville.

Karl Schweitzer

(Editor's Note: Karl Schweitzer is chairman of Hicksville Water District; past president of the Nassau/Suffolk Water Commissioners Association; and second vice chairman of the Long Island Water Conference.)


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