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Local Pols Address Municipal Bankruptcies

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.

News

Eight students from Jericho High School, the largest number of students from any school on Long Island this year, are among the 300 semifinalists picked from 1,800 entrants nationally and overseas in the annual Intel Science Talent Search.

Brookville’s Green Vale School students were featured in the September/October 2013 issue of Sport Rocketry, the official journal of the National Association of Rocketry.

The seventh-grade students competed nationally at the Team America Rocketry Challenge (TARC) last May in Virginia and were the youngest rocket scientists competing. They were also the only team from Long Island that qualified to enter the competition and one of only two teams from New York State.


Sports

The Syosset Braves 11-year-old football team recently won the Superbowl Championship Game against the Rosedale Jets with a final score of 13 to 0.

The Farrell & Schmidt Ho Ho Ho 5-Kilometer Run started and finished at the John F. Kennedy Middle School in Bethpage on Dec. 21. The top local finisher was Tim Mahony of Syosset, who scored in 11th place overall and third in the 15 to 19 age group.

Other locals winning awards in this year’s Ho Ho Ho Run were Gina Ferraro of Syosset (2nd woman, 35-39 age group), Patty Santella of Syosset (3rd woman, 45-49 age group), Kim Solomine of Syosset (2nd woman, 55-59 age group).


Calendar

Jericho Wheelchair Basketball

January 17

Reality Check on America’s Economy, Health Care & Budget

January 17

Open Forum: Now What Do I Say?

January 21



Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
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The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
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