Long Islanders are on the verge of making history.
This Wednesday, the residents of Sanitary District 2 will have the chance to approve the largest dissolution of a special taxing district ever, saving themselves hundreds of dollars annually on their property taxes.
The resolution is part of the process laid out by 2009's Government Reorganization and Citizen Empowerment Act, which was introduced by then New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo. Governor Cuomo at the time hailed the passing of the bill as a "historic crossroads decades in the making" which would "giving New York’s overburdened taxpayers the ability...(to) cut their property taxes." While the law has been effect for three years, it has only been successfully exercised once, in the dissolution of a small upstate fishing village. Wednesday's referendum, if successful, would be the largest use of the law, and represent a vindication for the Governor.
The law was prompted, in part, by analyses like those conducted by former Nassau County Comptroller Howard Weitzman, who found significant problems among many of the more than 200 special taxing districts in Nassau alone. His 2005 reports found a number of questionable expenses, including the following which I mentioned in an earlier post:
Special taxing districts face less oversight than other municipalities, and in Sani 2, it shows. In 2001, the district’s Board of Commissioners used $184,000 in district funds to purchase a building, without first giving a reason for the purchase. This took place while Sani 2 was already saddled with $330,000 in debt.
Even worse, as many of us were struggling to pay our tax bills, in 2003 Sani 2 bureaucrats spent $3,195 of taxpayer money to attend a New Orleans conference. The trip included a $676 tab for dinner at Morton's Steakhouse, a high-end restaurant near the city’s French Quarter. Sheltered from any real public scrutiny, Sani 2 managers enjoyed a good time on the public dime.
Endorsements from Long Island elected officials and community leaders have been flooding in, including Nassau County Legislator Carrie Solages. "I am a strong believer in the idea that 'If something is not broken, it is a mistake to try to fix it.' The trouble is that Special District 2 is quite broken" said Legislator Solages. "It does not function in a way that efficiently and economically collects and properly disposes of our garbage.Seven years ago, in 2007, an audit of the sanitation district was conducted by the Nassau County Comptroller. That audit revealed that the residents of Sanitary District #2 were paying substantially more for refuse collection and disposal than most of the rest of Nassau County, for comparable services. In fact, the average inflated costs paid by District 2 residents was $700. If anything, the situation has further deteriorated over the past five years."(emphasis added)
Other endorsements included:
Nassau County Legislator David Denenberg
Kevin Law, President of the Long Island Association
Thomas Goodhue, Executive Director of the Long Island Council of Churches
Bryan Korman, Organizer of the Rockville Centre Tea Party Patriots
Mitchell H. Pally
Chief Executive Officer of the Long Island Builders Institute
Jay Jacobs, the Nassau County Democratic Chairman
Steve Levy, the Center's executive director and former Suffolk County Executive
And most importantly of all, the more than 5,000 residents of Sanitary District 2 who signed petitions calling for the referendum on dissolution to take place.
In spite of the broad base of support, the bureaucrats in charge of the District have resorted to a campaign of disinformation and intimidation, hoping to confuse homeowners who rightly want to save money on their property taxes. The facts are simple: Sanitary District 2 is costing residents more money than the surrounding sanitation services provided by the town. After voting to dissolve the district, a plan to provide more efficient services will be created using funds provided by the state, and included in the law are specific requirements to take into account the district's current workers. Wednesday's vote is the first crucial step in that process.
The residents of Sanitary District 2 are faced with an simple but important choice in this referendum. They can choose between continuing with an overpriced, outdated system, or they can vote to save hundreds of dollars annually on their property taxes. We think the choice is clear: Vote Yes to dissolve Sani 2.
Voting is taking place from 2:00pm to 10:00pm at the following locations:
Baldwin: District Office 2080 Grand Avenue
Roosevelt: Queen of the Most Holy Rosary
South Hempstead: Covert School
Rockville Centre: Covert School
For more information vist: http://www.fixmypropertytaxes.com/