Written by George Maragos Thursday, 12 September 2013 00:00
The Financial condition of the County continues to improve by all fundamental measures, primarily due to the improving economy and cost controls instituted by the Mangano administration. From residents’ point of view, the County’s improved financial state is reflected in the county portion of their property tax bill, which has not increased in the last four years.
The mid-year financial projections for 2013 indicate that the County will end the year with a $5.6 million budgetary surplus. This follows on the heels of 2012’s surplus of $41.5 million, now confirmed by independent auditors. These budget surpluses are due to increased sales tax revenues from the improving economy (up 10.4 percent year to date) and reduced Social Service costs due to lower unemployment (down to 6 percent, one of the lowest rates in New York State and lower than that of Suffolk County and New York City.)
All other financial fundamentals also continue to improve, including the structural gap, property tax refunds due to assessment corrections and the County’s long term debt. I’ll address these three points in turn.
The County’s structural gap (the difference between current expenses and recurring revenues) continues its year-over-year improvement since 2009. The structural gap is projected at a seven year low of $54.4 million, down from $116.9 million in 2012 – a 53.5 percent improvement over one year ago - and down from $251.6 million in 2009 - a 78.4 percent improvement over four years.
The County’s growing liability for property tax refunds appears to have been addressed and is expected to decline. The County’s average payouts have been reduced to about $60.3 million annually for the last four years, down from an annual average of $93 million under the previous administration. This decrease does not come at the expense of homeowners: it is due to a more aggressive policy on the part of the Mangano Administration of challenging commercial grievances.
It is worth noting, given the public debate about the county debt, that the long term debt increased only modestly due to 47 percent lower new borrowing over the last four years compared with the period of 2006-2009. The total projected year end 2013 debt of $3.595 billion is quite manageable and only about 30 percent higher than the annual budgetary revenues of the County. Most families manage mortgages that are 300 percent to 400 percent of their family’s annual income.
Although the County’s financial fundamentals have improved by all measures, the County continues to face fiscal challenges. The wage freeze currently challenged in the courts is the greatest potential liability, estimated at $230 million by year’s end. To protect the County’s improving financial state, the County needs to address this risk in the 2014 Multi-Year Plan or resolve it through collective bargaining.
Wednesday, 11 December 2013 00:00
Hicksville residents, business owners, and stakeholders came out to a Northwest Hicksville Brownfield Opportunity Area (BOA) open house last week where they learned more about proposed revitalization and provided feedback on the draft pre-nomination study.
The Northwest BOA is bounded by the Northern State Parkway to the north, Old Country Road to the south, Cantiague Lane to the west and 106/107 to the east. The area includes major Hicksville landmarks including the Broadway Mall, train station, post office, Cantiague Park, Burns Avenue School, several businesses and manufacturers, and numerous residential homes. Several of the properties in the corridor lie vacant or underused, which identifies the area as eligible for the BOA program, which is meant to provide communities with money, land use and redevelopment tools for revitalization.
Thursday, 05 December 2013 00:00
Although Fuel Cafe is six years old, it's been a work in progress since new owners took over one-and one-half years ago. The main part of the cafe was recently redecorated and an adjoining room is soon to open. And though there's been several changes, the concept remains the same—this is a place where healthy and hearty food is served. The food is grilled or baked, never fried, and they do not use microwaves so everything is made to order.
With a menu of over 170 items and dozens of combinations of meats, vegetables, bread and more, be prepared to do a lot of reading to figure out what your meal will be.
Thursday, 05 December 2013 00:00
As they come off their most successful season in 30 years, the Hicksville Boys basketball team faces a challenge in replicating last year's success. The 2012-13 season saw the Comets compile a 15-5 record and had their season ending in the Nassau County semifinals to rival Baldwin. According to Head Coach Phil Essigman, who is entering his 14th season with the varsity team, the team will feature only two returning players from last season. Last year’s team was incredibly deep and experienced and it is part of the “rollercoaster”, as he described it, of high school sports for teams to go through periods of grooming inexperienced players.
Wednesday, 27 November 2013 00:00
Hicksville’s Mary-Jo Depaoli, and Nao Joe scored with awards on Sunday, November 17 in the 5th annual Blue Ribbon Run for Prostate Cancer, a 5 Kilometer road race that started and finished at Syosset-Woodbury Community Park.Depaoli crossed the finish line with a time of 23:01, earning her second place honors in the women’s 35-39 age group, and Joe finished the race with a time of 28:36, to earn third place in the women’s 30-34 age group, A record breaking total of 414 runners and walkers crossed the finish line.
The race was held by the Town of Oyster Bay and raised money to help in the fight against prostate cancer. Free prostate cancer screenings were offered on-site, as well as informative urology and men’s health exhibits, refreshments and prizes for participants.