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2012-13 Village Budget Approved

Tax increase set at 2.18 percent

Municipalities and school districts are struggling to stay under the inaugural 2 percent property tax cap enacted last summer by Governor Andrew Cuomo as budget conversations commence across the state. The passage prompted many villages, including Mineola, to activate a cap override, so the village would not incur heavy fines if it pierced the threshold.

The override puzzled residents and business owners alike, prompting questions if Mineola would finalize a budget in excess. The Mineola American first reported the tax levy increase was slightly over the cap.

After last week’s budget hearing, Mineola can rest easy.

The board of trustees unanimously approved the 2012-13 village budget on Thursday, April 12. The budget tax increase for the coming fiscal year is 2.18, with the total budget being set at $21,586,487.

The tax levy was finalized at $13,218,910. After all the mathematical rigmarole, Village Treasurer Giacomo Ciccone estimated the tax increase produces a $30 increase per household in property taxes. Last year, the village budget tax increase was set at 3.65 percent.

“We’re maintaining services,” Mayor Scott Strauss said. “The library board asked to increase some of their services and hours during the summer, which had no adverse affect on the budget. We’ll be getting service without hurting other [budget] lines.”

The MTA payroll tax to the village totaled $21,500 for the coming fiscal year, which adds up to about 0.1 percent of the budget. Resident Dennis Walsh thinks the tax, if eliminated, would bring Mineola down to the cap.

“So the MTA payroll tax is essentially the reason we’re over the cap? Unreal,” he stated. “This could basically be identified as the thorn in the side of this budget.”

State Senators Jack Martins (R-Mineola) and Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) have been working to repeal for municipalities. The tax was repealed for small businesses, private and public schools last year.

Martins told the Mineola American that he and Zeldin tried to get the repeal bill into the recently $132.6 billion passed budget. The finance committee, according to Martins, is currently combing through the bill.

“I expect after we get back from this budget hiatus, they’ll be passing it,” Martins asserted. “We tried to get it into the budget. Unfortunately we couldn’t. There certainly is a priority making sure we exclude municipalities and property tax payers from having to pay it.”

Village legal fees topped off at $350,000, a $50,000 increase from the tentative budget released at the beginning of the month. Contingent special line items showcased a $50,000 decrease to $464,000. The village budgeted that line at $435,000 last year, but its year-to-date usage was zero.

“Once again, Mr. Ciccone, the mayor and the department heads…we have chosen the right course, which is to maintain services and be responsible,” trustee Paul Pereira said. “Of course, anyone can look at the budget and say we could’ve cut more. You can certainly take a slash and burn approach but at the end of the day, they get a bang for their buck here. This is responsible budgeting.”

According to Ciccone, New York State assessors informed Mineola that it would need to reclassify non-homestead village properties, which required a $86,752 payment in lieu of taxes. The assessed valuation of all properties in the village is $722,683,844, which creates the $30 per-household increase in the tax levy.

“We kept this as reasonable as we could,” trustee Larry Werther said. “When you take a look at it, you’re getting a lot here more than most places.”

News

In a typical Long Island community packed with houses and backyards, there are a couple of acres of open land of community gardens where people are growing basil and dahlias and roses and cabbages—people like Terry Dunckey of Westbury and Peg Woerner of Great Neck, tending their small plots and helping to promote sustainable and organic practices.

East Meadow Farm, off Merrick Avenue, is owned by Nassau County and operated by Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) of Nassau County. Previously it was a family-owned farm that was purchased by the county through the Environment Bond Act Program, a $150 million program that called for, among several mandates, the preservation of 400 acres of open space. In 2009, CCE of Nassau was awarded the lease to the land and in January 2012 took possession of the property. East Meadow Farm is a place where we can get the best advice on how to make our gardens grow without harming the earth. Part of the CCE’s original proposal was the establishment of a farmer’s market and, now, the market is open two days a week, a place to purchase organic vegetables and flowers during the growing season.

Drivers—get ready to slow down. Nassau County is currently in the process of installing school zone speed cameras in an effort to enhance safety by encouraging drivers to travel with caution, as well as support law enforcement efforts to crack down on violators and prevent accidents caused by speeding.

Nassau County officials say they’re still investigating locations in the Mineola School District, while leaning towards installing cameras near the North Side or Willets Road schools in the East Williston School District. Cameras could begin operation in September.


Sports

Nobody wants to make excuses, but sometimes when the injury bug hits, it’s impossible to overcome. Mineola Mustangs football head coach Dan Guido, entering his 28th season at helm, knows the injuries were the cause for their first-round defeat at the hands of the West Hempstead Rams last November.

“There was too many injuries on the offensive line last season,” said Guido. “It was supposed to be our strength and it ended up being a weak link by the end of the season.”

Even with those injuries, the Mustangs went 4-4 during the regular season.

The BU15 Mineola Revolution were crowned champions of the Roar at the Shore Tournament 2014 in West Islip on Aug. 10. After dropping the opener 2-0 against North Valley Stream, Mineola bounced back to beat Freeport Premiere 2-1.

The Revolution’s offense exploded in the third game as they beat West Islip 7-0. Mineola’s final game pitted them against Quickstrike FC, which entered the contest without a loss and within a point of winning the tournament.


Calendar

Zoning Meeting

Thursday, Aug. 28

Mineola Village Meeting

Wednesday, Sept. 3

School Board Meeting

Thursday, Sept. 4



Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com

The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
Written by Mike Barry, MFBarry@optonline.net

Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com