As taxes and fuel costs rise, families are forced to cut back on spending. I believe that the government should do so, too.
The nation's economy is weakening, and this is a scary state of affairs. But, when we need renewed confidence most, we see that our county's finances are even worse. Not just because we pay some of the highest taxes in the nation, but also because the county spending has reached an all-time high. Nassau County, with a population of 1.3 million people, is larger than seven states, but the county's budget is larger than 16 states. That's right, Nassau County spends more tax dollars each year than one third of the states in the entire country. That's the problem.
As speculation of a recession soars, our county budget is bigger than ever - over $3 billion. But, as spending continues to rise, our incomes and ability to pay do not. Well, our county executive's income went up 60 percent last year. He lives lavishly while others live one paycheck away from foreclosure.
To fund the county's exorbitant budget, the county executive and his rubber-stamp Democrat majority in the legislature continually impose new and additional fees, fines and penalties throughout the county. They do this to generate revenue while being able to tout that they have not increased property taxes in five years. Well, I must remind you that our county executive increased property taxes nearly 20 percent back in 2002 when he took office. Since then, he has also continually increased or created new fees countywide, such as fees for reporting faulty house alarms, retrieving accident reports, obtaining building permits, ambulance service calls, and multiple increases for park and recreational uses, plus much more. I, and the members of the Republican caucus, oppose these fees, but are continually outvoted by the Democrat majority.
Additionally, the county executive recently created a $15 fee to be imposed on all drivers who have dismissed traffic tickets. That means if you get a ticket for forgetting to carry your license or insurance card, but you produce it at your court date, you must still pay a $15 fee even though your ticket was dismissed. This is appalling.
The Nassau County budget is excessive, especially in this weak economy, and it cannot be sustained. The county executive's four-year budget plan update was just released projecting deficits for 2008 through 2011 totaling over half a billion dollars - yes, billion. How much more does Suozzi and his legislators think they can suck out of our pockets?
Now is the time to tighten the budget and trim spending wherever possible. Instead, the county executive is spending millions to "study" sewer consolidation. We need immediate relief, not new fees and taxes. I implore the county executive to stop trying to generate more revenue and start cutting spending. I would like to join with our New York State Assemblymen to eliminate the county gasoline tax for the summer. It will give some much-needed relief to our residents, and since a decrease in gas tax may stimulate an increase in sales tax, there should be no negative impact on the county's finances. There are many innovative ways to cut spending and reduce taxes. I think Mr. Suozzi should "study" that.
Please continue to voice your concerns about government spending, and I will do the same. Eventually, someone will hear us.
Legislator Dennis Dunne, Sr.