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Q&A: Candidates for Hempstead Town Supervisor

Anton Newspapers asked Republican incumbent Kate Murray and Democratic challenger Gary Port to respond to the following questions

Kate Murray

Since the majority of voters did not approve floating bonds to fund the Hub project, what is the next step for instituting a new plan for the site and how will you work with the county to do so?

Nassau County’s proposal to have taxpayers authorize a bond referendum to finance a refurbished Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum was resoundingly defeated. Since the property upon which the Coliseum sits, as well as surrounding land, belongs to the county, Nassau’s administration is working to secure development proposals for the county’s hub. Hempstead Town’s role rests in its zoning authority. Indeed, the entire town board voiced its desire for reasonable development at the site and our united goal of keeping the Islanders Hockey Team at its Uniondale home by creating a flexible development/building zone in June of this year. The new zone allows sports, recreation, convention, hotel, conference, business, education, housing, technology and a host of other uses at the site.

Hempstead officials have met with county officials and have offered to brief all prospective developers on the technical specifications of the zone. In short, our zone allows for progressive and sustainable development that won’t bring roadways to a standstill and that will be able to be supported by our water supply, sewage and area infrastructure. What’s more, we are excited about dynamic development that will be significant while complementing our suburban character at the same time.

What is your plan to create jobs and revitalize areas in the township that are suffering?

While many governments at all levels are in fiscal free fall, Hempstead Town is a model of financial accountability and sound budgeting. Indeed, my 2012 budget freezes all town taxes while justifying the highest Wall Street credit ratings available. This fiscal strength is at the core of our township’s impressive economic stimulation, community revitalization and job creation efforts.

Developers are seeking stable government partners when they undertake major projects. Indeed, our town board has approved three major projects that are creating jobs, stimulating the economy and restoring luster to our business districts. The former Avis Rent-A-Car world headquarters in East Garden City is the subject of a 300,000 square foot commercial redevelopment that boasts a $100 million direct investment by developers, 500 constructions jobs and over 600 new projected permanent jobs upon completion.

New train commuter-friendly homes are replacing West Hempstead’s seedy Courtesy Hotel in a 285,000 square foot project that is the subject of a $95 million investment. Construction jobs are being created now and exciting homes are coming for young commuting professionals who wish to remain on Long Island.

Another major project, Avalon Bay, along Stewart Avenue in East Garden City, is creating construction jobs as 200 units of a diverse array of housing types is being built. Hempstead’s great budgetary management has allowed us to offer a substantial “Improve Hempstead” capital upgrade program. The $50 million program is creating road resurfacing work, marine bulkheading employment and construction positions as the town builds a $6 million recreation center for children with special needs.

Added to all of the aforementioned community revitalization, job creation and economic stimulation work, Hempstead is pursuing great downtown revitalization work at the same time as our career center is helping workers. In fact, our career center has placed over 7,000 workers in meaningful jobs in a one-year period.

Downtown revitalization work in Elmont, West Hempstead, Franklin Square and seven other communities is helping support vibrant business districts. Brick-paved walkways, Victorian street lights, decorative benches and more are complementing new business storefront facades. An urban renewal project in Elmont will replace the former Argo movie theatre site with a vibrant community supermarket.

In short, Hempstead Town is working hard and getting real results when it comes to creating jobs, revitalizing our township and stimulating the economy.

Many other townships are consolidating services in order to save taxpayers money during difficult economic times. What is one glaring cost in the town’s budget that you would reduce if you are elected/re-elected?

Many other townships are scrambling now, consolidating services, wrestling with layoff prospects, slashing capital improvement work, cutting services and eliminating programs. Our government, on the other hand, has been a study in efficient and effective government services. Taxes will be frozen in 2012; all programs will be maintained. In fact, Moody’s Investors Service stated in affirming Hempstead’s top-notch credit ratings, “The Aaa rating reflects the town’s prudent fiscal management characterized by conservative budgeting practices…”

What’s more, Hempstead Town has committed itself to efficient operations, reducing its workforce by 6 percent over 10 years. Equally impressive, our government is bucking a gluttonous governmental borrowing trend that threatens to mortgage our children’s future. Specifically, we have reduced our government’s debt service by $6.3 million since 2010. Finally, our government is holding salary and wage increases to 1 percent for 2012 while private sector employees have seen total compensation rise by 2.6 percent for the most recent one-year period.

The area of costs that is of greatest concern is unfunded state mandated costs such as pension contributions, MTA payroll taxes, not to mention the continual cuts in state aid to localities.