Written by Joe Rizza Friday, 02 April 2010 00:00
On a Sunday afternoon, in front of hundreds of supporters in the Williston Park American Legion Hall, Mineola Mayor Jack M. Martins was introduced as the Republican candidate for the 7th Senate District. After applause subsided, Martins spoke to those who will be supporting his campaign. In the first words of his speech, he mentioned being mayor of the Village of Mineola, a position he has held for the past seven years.
“I love being mayor of Mineola. I have loved the last seven years. I love working with my fellow residents to make things right in Mineola,” he said. “The only reason that I would have to move on and to seek election to another office is the reality that no matter how hard we work in Mineola, no matter how much we do and how well we do it, it can all be undone by the dysfunction we call Albany today.”
While Martins is now officially a candidate for the 7th Senate District, his duties as mayor still call. This time of year is when the mayor and the village trustees sit down to pass a budget for the 2010-2011 fiscal year, which begins June 1, 2010 and ends May 31, 2011.
For many local governments and New York State for that matter, budget time in recent years has been one of paradox. In a time when many families are struggling during a tough economic climate, governments are not making it any easier. Government spending, in spite of stagnant salaries and a decrease in job opportunities, has not decreased.
The Village of Mineola, however, may be an exception. During the first budget meeting, which takes place tonight at Mineola Village Hall, 155 Washington Avenue at 6:30 p.m., Mayor Martins and village trustees are expected to discuss a budget for the 2010-2011 fiscal year that holds the line on taxes.
Mayor Martins explained that he sought ways to reduce spending in certain areas instead of going back to the taxpayers for more revenue during tough economic times when he believes governments should not be increasing the burden on taxpayers.
One of the ways in which the village is expected to reduce its spending is on garbage disposal. The village is currently in the final year of a contract with the Town of North Hempstead for garbage disposal. The current contract, which expires at the end of this fiscal year, calls for the village to pay the town $88 per ton for garbage disposal. The village is set to leave the town for garbage disposal and enter into contract with another company that is charging $64.75 per ton in the first year of the new contract.
Also, due to a decision by the village board to reassess properties in 2008, the amount the village pays out for property assessments that are successfully challenged has been declining.
As some other local governments are struggling with increases in expenses they may have to pass off to their taxpayers, the Village of Mineola appears to be in good shape. As the economy improves, Mayor Martins expects the village’s fiscal future to be bright. “We’re in position to have a very steady budget for years to come,” he said.
State lawmakers in Albany, where Mayor Martins hopes to find himself in January, do not have it so easy where increases in spending are placing an increasing burden on taxpayers. For fiscal year 2009-2010, state spending is expected to amount to $131.9 billion, an increase of $10.3 billion or 8.5 percent over the 2008-2009 fiscal year, according to the Citizens Budget Commission.
Recently, the New York State Senate Democratic Majority passed by 32-29 margin a budget resolution for the 2010-2011 fiscal year that calls for $136 billion in spending. The Senate Democrats’ plan, however, approves the governor’s initiative to cut $1.4 billion in state aid to public schools, which would impact Long Island school districts. The State Assembly is considering its own budget proposal.
Mayor Martins’ opponent in November, Senator Craig Johnson, believes that tough decisions need to be made during tough economic times.
“Hard decisions had to be made, and that included the governor’s health and school cuts. However, the Senate is committed to ensuring that these cuts are distributed proportionately. The resolution also takes pains to discourage school districts from raising property taxes by authorizing the use of reserve funds to fill potential shortfalls and maintain educational programs. I’m disappointed that the Senate Republicans voted against this resolution and against beginning the conference committee process. However, I am committed to working with them, and to listening to their ideas as we craft an open, bipartisan budget,” said Senator Johnson. “What was passed by the Senate was a beginning of a conference committee process. Our resolution called for fully funding the STAR exemption program, restoring the Enhanced Senior STAR rebate check, preventing park closures, and funding a forensic audit of the MTA — all without new taxes or fees.”
Cap: Mineola Mayor Jack M. Martins is expected to discuss a village budget that does not increase taxes.