NCVOA March 2015 NEWSLETTER
Published by the Nassau County Village Officials Association
Post Office Box 484, New Hyde Park, NY 1104
NCVOA March 2015 General Membership Meeting
Tuesday, March 10, 2015-6:30PM
City Cellar Restaurant
1080 Corporate Drive
Westbury, NY 11590
E J McMahon
Empire Center for Public Policy
E.J.McMahon will give you an economic forecast of New York - New York by the Numbers, 2015
FROM THE PRESIDENTS DESK:
Dear Mayors, Trustees and Friends:
I want to thank Town Supervisors John Venditto (Oyster Bay) and Judi Bosworth (North Hempstead) for gracing us with their presence at our February meeting. Each Supervisor gave us a brief update on their respective towns, and the challenges we all face as municipal officials. There was a nice question and answer period during which a number of topics were discussed, including the areas where villages and the towns can coordinate, collaborate and work together to prove services as efficiently as possible. The meeting was a rare opportunity to have the Supervisors together and to hear their perspectives on some of the issues that we mutually face. I thank them, on behalf of the Association, for taking the time out to meet with us. I also thank the members of the Association who turned out for this meeting. The number of villages represented was high and we hope to see more members at future meetings.
Since our last Newsletter, the proposal by Nassau OTB to place a mini-casino at the old Fortunoff site in Westbury was abandoned, in part due to the opposition of the Association and many of the mayors in the Association who participated in opposing the plans. We await to see what new sites OTB may now consider to establish the site, which could raise red flags as well. As we know, the challenges to our villages never cease, as the newest issue affecting our members is that the County now seeks to permit the erection of 8 illuminated billboards in 8 locations throughout the County, including in several villages. The aesthetic impact of these billboards will be deleterious to those communities affected. There are also traffic safety concerns that must be considered. The Association is gathering more information as to what is being proposed, and will form a position on this matter. Many mayors have already expressed concerns about this proposal.
Also since my last communication, the State Board of Elections issued its report regarding the electronic voting machine mandate issue. As you know, the Nassau County Board of Elections has already made it clear to us that it will be incapable of providing electronic voting machines for all of the village, special district and school district elections that take place in Nassau County each year, leaving villages and others in the very tenuous position of having to fend for themselves and make their own (very costly) arrangements, or resort to paper ballot elections. Neither of these alternatives is acceptable. The Association has scheduled a meeting with the County Executive and election commissioners, as well as Senator Martins and others, to discuss what remedies may be available to address this problem. It is not clear as of this writing what can be done, but one approach may be to attempt to obtain state legislation exempting Nassau’s villages from the electronic machine mandate. The prospects for that kind of legislation is unclear, but we will be aggressively pursuing that and other alternatives in the weeks ahead.
Finally, NCVOA continues to discuss with Nassau County the development of a service sharing arrangement or other mechanism to allow all villages to coordinate with the county to provide certain services in a more cost effective manner. As you know, under Governor Cuomo’s tax rebate program, in order for our village residents to be eligible for a village tax rebate [next year], villages will need to adopt a budget under the tax cap, without an effective tax cap override local law, as well as file by June 1, 2015, a report to the State outlining its government efficiency measures. We are seeking to work with the County to enable villages to develop qualifying arrangements to meet the state law’s requirements. But, villages should be thinking now of what eligible cost savings measures they have already participated in or developed that can be included in their report this June.
We hope to see you on March 10, 2015 for our monthly meeting when The Empire Center for Public Policy’s E.J. McMahon will be talking to us about tax policy and government efficiencies. He is usually a provocative speaker and writer, so it should be interesting. Note the changed venue for this meeting: City Cellar, 1080 Corporate Drive in Westbury starting at 6:30PM.
Peter I. Cavallaro
NCVOA Loses a Legend:
The NCVOA lost a living legend with the passing of long-time Cedarhurst mayor Andy Parise.
Village administrator Sal Evola captured Andy’s essence when he said in a Newsday article, “Being a mayor was not a job to him. It was his heart and soul.”
Andy began his long career in government and public service in 1954 when he became a legislative aide to NYS Assemblyman Edward Larkin. In 1956, he joined the Town of Hempstead as an executive assistant.
Andy’s public service to the Village of Cedarhurst spanned more than 43 years. He previously served as trustee before becoming mayor, a position he held for nearly 20 years.
Always jovial, Andy and the Village of Cedarhurst were active NCVOA members.
The NCVOA joins the Village of Cedarhurst in mourning the passing of a true public servant.
NCVOA President Responds:
Printed below is a letter that NCVOA President Peter Cavallaro sent to Mr. Mike Vilensky a writer for the Wall Street Journal.
Dear Mr. Vilensky;
Your February 18 article (Cuomo Plan to Distribute $1.5 Billion Sparks Upstate New York Battle) struck a sensitive nerve with me and, most likely, hundreds of other local elected officials across the State of New York. Local municipal leaders are under siege. The governor expects us to keep tax increases under 2% while the State of New York continues to ignore its constitutional obligation to provide fiscal aid to local municipalities. Now, he wants to pit local upstate communities against each other to compete for funding they are entitled to in the first place. It makes no sense.
According to an article published by Mildred Warner of Cornell University www.mildredwarner.org/restructuring/fiscal-stress,” the State constitution says that 8% of its revenues should be passed on to its localities, but the State has never met the 8%standard” Yet, for more than 20 years, Nassau County’s 64 incorporated villages have seen state aid plummet to near nothing. During the same period, escalating unfunded state mandates have unfairly shifted costs for state initiative to local governments and their residents.
The pleas for rectifying this longstanding inequity have fallen on deaf ears. The state refuses to acknowledge the vital role of local governments, despite independent studies qualifying the value.
A December 2014 report presented by Cornell University’s Department of City and Regional Planning, the Community and Regional Development Institute, and the Fiscal Policy Institute entitled State Austerity Policy & Creative Local Response, stated:
“Currently, most government functions in New York State are handled by municipalities and school districts rather than the state. Local governments (except NYC) can only raise property taxes and fees, and have been keeping their expenditures steady over the past 10 years when adjusted for inflation".
“State aid for counties and towns has dropped dramatically over the past 10 years, while aid to villages is flat. School districts have also seen drops in state aid.”
“To control property taxes, the state promised three policy changes. However, a lack of mandate relief meant localities had to make ends meet with cuts and higher taxes, hurting economic prospects.”
Long Island and the downstate region are particularly impacted by revenue sharing inequity as we receive a disproportionate amount. According to the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government at SUNY Albany, “New York City and the downstate suburbs give far more to Albany in revenues that they get in state-funded expenditures.“ Downstate communities account for 27 % of the state’s total tax dollars, yet only 17 % is returned in state aid. For every dollar we generate in taxes, only 72 cents of state aid is returned.
It is time once and for all to correct the imbalance. Creating competition for dollars is not the solution. Committing to sustained and equitable revenue sharing is.
Peter Cavallaro, mayor of the Village of Westbury and president of the Nassau County Village Officials Association
February 2015 Meeting Attendees
The Last Word:
"Our greatest glory consists not in never falling, but rising every time we fall"