Written by Chris Boyle Friday, 13 September 2013 00:00
Local municipalities are among the areas hardest hit by the economic recession, and a handful have gone so far as to declare bankruptcy — although none yet in New York State.
At the Theodore Roosevelt Legislative Building in Mineola last month, Sen. Jack Martins and State Senator Carl Marcellino held a public hearing entitled, “Fiscally Distressed Municipalities: Preparing for and Preventing Municipal Bankruptcy in New York.”
The hearing’s purpose was to review state laws and state-imposed municipal finance oversight boards as they relate to fiscally distressed municipalities and take testimony from local community leaders on issues and possible initiatives.
Fortunately, for Long Island villages, bankruptcy does not seem to be an immediately pressing problem. East Williston Village Mayor David Tanner, speaking not only as mayor, but as the recently elected president of the Nassau County
Village Officials Association, noted that while our local governments are facing financial hardship, others are faring far worse.
“We’re very fortunate on Long Island because we are a satellite economy of New York City, where the economy is thriving,” he said. “Generally, the villages of Nassau County are fiscally healthy.” Communities upstate, where two similar hearings have already been held, are “teetering on the brink,” according to Martins. “It’s a wake-up call for all of us,” he said.
The Buffalo hearing focused on control boards, state-mandated oversight committees that monitor a local government’s finances. In that respect, Buffalo is like Nassau.
“Nassau County is another community that has a control board for the past 13 years,” Martins said at the Mineola hearing. “Today, we’re going to talk about the interfaces between Control Boards and local governments - what works, what doesn’t work – and perhaps better approaches to municipal insolvency.”
Steve Levy, former Suffolk County Executive and current president of Common Sense Strategies, a finance efficiency consulting firm, testified that the three main issues facing municipalities and local government in New York State are the rising costs of pensions and health care, plus disability fraud, especially among police and civil service positions.
“We need to start eliminating overtime when calculating the amount of pensions...We have people retiring and earning pensions that are over $100,000 a year,” he said. “This is starting to bankrupt local governments.”
Tanner said that tax collection has become a big hurdle for many local villages face.
“I want to talk about the need for assistance in collecting taxes,” he said. “There are some instances where municipalities have to sell tax liens. We’d like to develop more efficient ways of collecting taxes.”
Richard Ravitch, co-chair of the advisory board of the State Budget Crisis Task Force, testified that it is vital to help local municipalities to the point where they are able to meet their financial obligations and deliver the essential services they are charged with providing to citizens.
Thursday, 12 December 2013 10:25
The delightful and upbeat Annie Bleiberg, who is 93 years young, considers herself a very lucky person.
Bleiberg, a Woodbury resident, was a slave at Auschwitz during the Holocaust and her story of survival is chronicled in We Will Survive, a new book by Grammy award-winning artist Gloria Gaynor, known for her famous song “I Will Survive.”
On Nov. 19, The Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center of Nassau County held its Annual Tribute dinner at the Old Westbury Hebrew Congregation, with more than 400 people in attendance including Bleiberg and Gaynor.
Wednesday, 11 December 2013 00:00
A Syosset surgeon has become the first in the United States to present findings from a clinical trial on a combined bariatric approach to enhance weight loss that involves implanting a Lap Band and performing surgery on the stomach.
Plication, or surgery to fold the outer curve of the stomach into a pleat, is new in its application to bariatric surgeries. For decades, the procedure was used to treat perforated ulcers or stomach trauma.
Thursday, 12 December 2013 10:56
The 6th Annual Blazing Trails 4 Autism 4-Mile Run held on Nov. 23 was almost a brand new race—a new community (East Meadow) with a new school (the new Eden II/Genesis School at St. Raphael’s Parish) and a new flat course through some very nice local streets.
Among the 863 finishers were several award winners from local communities: Patty Santella of Syosset (3rd woman 45-49 age group), Kim Solomine of Syosset (1st woman 55-59 age group), Glen Wolther of Jericho (3rd 55-59 age group), Pamela Lee of Syosset (1st woman 60-64 age group) and Bert Jablon of Syosset (1st 85-89 age group).
Thursday, 12 December 2013 10:50
Graduate student and Syosset native Kiera Harrison became the first-ever Loyola University Maryland cross country runner to earn an at-large bid to the NCAA Cross Country Championships, by the NCAA Division I Men’s and Women’s Track and Field Committee in November.
Harrison will become the first-ever Greyhound to compete at an NCAA Division I Championship in any sport as an individual.
“This was all Kiera’s hard work,” head cross country coach Rick Woods said. “She deserves this opportunity.”The veteran distance runner was the only Patriot League finisher to earn All-Mid-Atlantic Region honors this year, finishing 24th at the regional meet by tying a career-best time of 20:51 on Nov. 15.