On Monday, June 21, representatives of a dozen Port taxing authorities met with approximately 150-200 residents of Port in the United Methodist Church to discuss the impact their taxes have on the Port peninsula. The agencies attending included single purpose districts, the Town of North Hempstead and the incorporated villages. Speakers, whose single question often received answers from as many as a half-dozen representatives, experienced difficulties similar to those faced throughout the year in dealing with so many taxing authorities. Responses to questions generally included appreciation for the community input and assertions that all agencies are constantly looking for ways to improve.
Councilman Fred Pollack's opening remarks described the purpose of the meeting as a means to enlighten Port residents on the work of the various taxing authorities especially since many are preparing and presenting their budgets for the next fiscal year. Former Chief Geoffrey Cole assisted in getting the meeting on a positive note by saying that, at the present time, it appears his budget will actually decrease in the coming year.
The meeting, which was emceed by Peri Zausner of the General Council of Homeowners Associations of Port Washington, was opened by a question as to what the board of education was doing to prevent a situation, which occurred in the Roslyn school system. School board member Nancy Cowles said there are good financial controls in place, an internal auditor monitors expenses and there are no relatives working together in administration.
A question was raised asking whether the many authorities could consolidate functions such as purchasing to effect economies. Many members of the panel went to great lengths to explain steps taken to reduce costs such as purchasing off existing town and county contacts. After a lengthy discussion, a questioner criticized the panel for going on and on about saving money on 'paper clips' and failing to mention the savings that were possible through a reduction in personnel costs. He received what was probably the loudest applause of the evening. The largest tax expense is that of Port schools which account for 60 percent of all taxes, an increase from 50 percent over past years. Cowles emphasized that all hires are reviewed to assure that they are truly warranted and the board is constantly striving to control expenses. A rebuttal from the audience claimed that many suggestions to the board from the General Council were ignored. Complaints of students coming off the LIRR were handled by the occasional hiring of private detectives and Cowles said ineligible children were put out of the school. The quality of Port schools was questioned citing the poor ratings received in comparison with local schools made by Newsweek. Cowles countered with the excellent rating afforded by The Wall Street Journal.
Fifteen percent of Port taxes are expended on the police department and 87 percent of that amount is allocated to salaries. Commissioner Zimbardi of the Port PD explained the limitations imposed by New York States' Taylor Law, which requires binding arbitration that traditionally imposes parity with salaries paid to other police departments such as Nassau and Suffolk. He urged contacting state elected officials to make the Taylor Law more practical. The need for the Port PD was questioned. Cmsr. Zimbardi responded by citing the many forms of exceptional service the community receives and said it was unlikely if this responsibility would be handled as well by the Nassau Police Department. Sands Point overwhelmingly turned down a similar proposal made in the past.
A detailed discussion took place of the building of new residences in Mill Pond Homes and the Thypin Steel site. Deputy Mayor of Port North, Robert Weitzner, said all 250 homes in Mill Pond have been sold and that approximately 40 of those went to present Port North residents. Weitzner also said that a moratorium on rezoning issues is in effect until the year's end. Manorhaven Mayor Nicholas Capozzi said the 96 two-bedroom cooperatives slated for the Thypin Steel site will be offered at $6-7 hundred thousand. Capozzi also stressed Manorhaven's concern for zoning by limiting two-family homes to 40x100' lots. Fire Chief Chris Bollerman cited the fact that thousands of addresses have been added over the years to his department's database. In decades past, there were virtually no calls for fire services in areas zoned for commercial. When completed both these locations rezoned as residential will undoubtedly result in increased fire department calls. Board of education member Cowles said the impact of increased school enrollment had to be viewed looking five years into the future and making a best estimate today based on available information.
Residents complained of an inability to pay traffic summonses locally. It was pointed out that traffic summonses issued in the incorporated villages were returnable to their local courts. In Manorhaven, provision was made to pay them by credit card. Supervisor Kaiman said that it was unlikely that Nassau County would give up their responsibility to collect traffic fines. A question was raised as to why Port has meters and Manhasset does not. Councilman Pollack said it was necessary in Port to turnover parking spaces in the shopping areas and that many businesses in Manhasset would like to have them. Enforcement of the turnover becomes much more difficult without meters. He pointed out the 10-minute grace period was afforded to quick in/out shoppers. Pollack also assured those concerned about recent power outages that he will correspond with each community group present to ask the problems they have had and pass that information along to the officials at LIPA. A question on trash accumulation on Main St. was directed to the Town. Kaiman placed some of the fault on businesses using street trashcans for trash, which should be removed by private carters.
The meeting was sponsored by the General Council of Homeowners Associations of Port Washington, which received the thanks of the audience and the agencies present. Represented at the meeting were the following: Port Police District, Garbage District, Fire District, Sewer District, Water District, Board of Education, Library District, Town of North Hempstead and the villages of Sands Point, Manorhaven, Baxter Estates and Port Washington North.