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Letter to the Editor: What Residents Should Know About Hempstead Town's 2012 Budget

Franklin Square resident Felix Procacci says several issues were not mentioned by Supervisor Kate Murray and her staff.

The following is from Franklin Square resident Felix Procacci:

On Oct. 11 the town board approved a $414.8 million dollar budget, a 2.9 percent increase (or $11.8 million dollars) over the 2011 budget. The budget was touted by Kate Murray as being a tax freeze budget that “blazes fiscal responsibility”.

Although the tax levy for the 2012 budget remains the same, there are some facts about the 2012 budget that weren't mentioned in the five mailings and press release used to promote the budget.

First, no mention was made of the use of $30 million dollars in reserve funds. This is $12 million dollars more than the $18 million dollars used last year. Also, no mention was made of the $50.7 million dollars of new debt issued by the Town in 2011.

Kate Murray often emphasizes her fiscal responsibility over the eight years she has been in office.

The best way to evaluate this statement is to look at your tax bills from 2003 and 2011 and compare the two. I did this and the results are displayed in the table below. All the numbers in this table were approved by Kate Murray and the Town Board.

Description 2003 2011 Percent Change

General Purpose

$15,883,091.15

$17,126,589.87

7.80%

Highway Dept.

$42,853,039.47

$63,951,727.30

49.00%

Building/Zoning

$7,659,950.53

$10,823,572.12

41.00% Lighting District

$7,018,990.72

$10,243,928.53

45.90% Franklin Sq. Park District

$1,465,457.84

$2,443,839.45

66.70% Refuse Disposal

$37,050,010.31

$43,202,557.60

16.60% Sanitary District 6

$16,971,667.28

$24,840,787.69

46.00% Frankling Sq. Water

$757,797.98

$936,803.76

23.60% Frankin Sq. Fire

$1,894,668.21

$2,335,609.81

23.00%

The annual debt service expense over the last eight years is presented in the following table.

2003 2011 Percent Change Debt Service

$41,926,770.00 (a)

$52,800,000.00 (b)

25.00%

(a): Source - OpenbookNewYork.com

(b): Source - Town of Hempstead 2011 Budget, page 4 footnote

And finally, FOILed documents show the Hempstead Animal Shelter budget has increased from about $3.5 million dollars in 2003 to $6.6 million dollars in 2011. The increase in the shelter budget is primarily due to an increase in Administrative charges. When I asked what these were at the Oct. 11 budget hearing and other town hall meetings, Kate Murray and her staff refused to answer.

Felix Procacci

Franklin Square

Lisa Rosen November 23, 2011 at 07:43 PM
Why isn't there a Kate Murray photo op to go with this?
Mr Dunes November 23, 2011 at 11:33 PM
Thanks Felix, I'm sending this to all of my Republican family, friends and neighbors at once.
Lloyd November 24, 2011 at 10:48 AM
How does this all effect us? When I spoke with a Town representative a few months ago, she told me that Long Beach is NOT a part or within the Towm of Hempstead and I am a absolutely forbidden to use Town parks or participate in Town adult rec programs, because we dont pay for them through our taxes and supposedly have our own. I am confused over this.
ADNK November 24, 2011 at 11:41 AM
LOL - pretty good snark. Before I became more "politically aware" I thought that Kate Murray had donated all those garbage trucks to the town.
Gerald Cymbalsky November 24, 2011 at 12:28 PM
Lloyd, you are known to the people you speak to. We put sand on the boardwalk to drive you away from, send our fire trucks with thier sirens blarring down broadway, and raise the drawbridge on the loop parkway just for you. I hope this leaves you with clarity.
Susan November 24, 2011 at 01:03 PM
Great article Felix. Thanks I had read in Newsday that the town was using millions in reserves but I was unaware of the debt for 50.7 million. There is no transparency. The school districts get away with the same tatics with using reserves and claiming a small tax increase. We are all doomed when the reserves disappear!
Robert Demarco November 24, 2011 at 01:12 PM
Happy Thanksgiving Day, Terry. If the stuff about the animal shelter was not true, Murray would have defended her position instead of avoiding questions. As for the 11th hour announcement of the audit, are you saying that is dirty politics? The Republicans always play dirty, with the constant mailers and sign stealing, etc. Both sides do unsavory things, but the Democrats have little traction compared to the Republicans. The outcome of the audit will be interesting. Their audits of fire departments and school districts have been revealing, so whatever the findings are, good or bad, will be relevant.
Felix Procacci November 24, 2011 at 02:10 PM
Terry, The author of this letter is also a registered and practicing conservative Republican and is also a practicing Environmentalist, unlike Kate Murray and the entire Town Board. The payments I received from the Gary Port campaign were to pay for the postage for mailings done under my bulk permit, 1299 out of Flushing NY. You are welcome to FOIL these records if you like. Payments made to a bulk permit account must come from a check with the name and address of the holder of the account. I did not state an objection about the borrowing or the reserves in my letter. I do object to the Kate Murray administration using taxpayer dollars to advertise a budget with out giving residents ALL the relevant facts. Even the fact that the Town was increasing spending by $11.8 million dollars in the 2012 budget was left out of the TAXPAYER FUNDED mailers. Unless you read the newspapers or the 2012 budget you wouldn't know. Look at the last mailing sent by Kate Murray days before the election, it says "just an honest forthright budget" Well Terry, if this budget is so "honest", why didn't Kate Murray or comptroller Kevin Conroy explain why a personnel line item for the General Services dept. is going up 14% when all of the employees are receiving much less than that and only one employee is being added. Kevin Conroy asked me to change my question, this is legal, but it is not honest (this is one of many examples of how Kate Murray is not accountable and transparent).
Bojames November 24, 2011 at 02:48 PM
How about this: under NYS Real Property Law 460 "clergy" get distortedly high exemptions on private homes exemptions and their exempted taxes are passed to all other taxpayers. In UFSD #14, Hewlett Woodmere there are approximately 40 homes on which little or no school or TOWN taxes are paid. Ask the Assessor for this information or write to me at clergyexemption@gmail.com for specific data. This distortion of the law is caused by the application of the 0.25% equalization rate to the full market assessment. Our state and county legislators need this giveaway to end.
icarumba November 24, 2011 at 03:35 PM
lloyd and gerald cymbalsky- long beach is in the city is that NOT part of the town of hemp stead consortium. you both can use TOH parks and facilities and programs but at a higher fee. don't like anyone tell you otherwise. i had a hempstead town councilman once tell me that since " you live in an incorporated village, you are NOT entitled to any town services, or use of the parks,etc" turn out that that arrogant piece of garbage was wrong. and then we wonder why in the end so many are disgusted with things and want to leave? lets see what LB and TOH will look like in 10 years- if not sooner.
Felix Procacci November 24, 2011 at 04:00 PM
Another fact people should be aware of is Kate Murray increased the postage costs for the 2011 budget by 25% over the 2010 budget. In 2010 Kate Murray sent out 27 mailings. Postage costs have gone up less than 1% from 2010 to 2011. Residents should ask Kate Murray why she needs to spend 25% more on mailings in 2011. Is it because 2011 is an election year? At the Town Hall budget hearing on Oct 11th, 2011, Michael Deery and Kate Murray refused to answer this question.
Gerald Cymbalsky November 24, 2011 at 04:08 PM
I enjoy living on this Long Beach Barrier island. The Boardwalk overlooking the ocean, bicycling to do my local shopping, local bus service for the rain days. I do not need the TOH parks, I got the beach with my lower beach pass fee. Sure parking is an issue, taxes are high, and the commute out takes a long time. The graph in the article shows the increases over an eight year period. The dollar is now 75% lower in value. One has to consider all economic factors.
Felix Procacci November 24, 2011 at 04:34 PM
To Gerald Cymbalsky, according to http://www.fxstreet.com/rates-charts/usdollar-index/ the dollar is down about 21% from Jan 2003. Since there is no absolute measure for a currency, it is measured against a basket of currencies. This relationship is called the dollar index.
Robert Demarco November 24, 2011 at 04:37 PM
The lack of transparency by the Murray administration is appalling.
Gerald Cymbalsky November 24, 2011 at 05:11 PM
Thank you Felix, however there is an near absolute on the dollar value, the price of gold. Gold at about $400 per ounce in 2003, and about $1700 in 2011. Gold is subject variations only due to countries central banks dumping gold or buying it. $400 times 4 gives me roughly 75%. I don't trust wallstreet, Bernecke, or banks. I put my bet on gold in 2003.
Felix Procacci November 24, 2011 at 05:32 PM
To Gerald Cymbalsky, if all purchases (or even if most purchases) consisted of gold, I would agree with you. The fact is prices of many critical commodities, like oil are based on the dollar. A devaluing of a currency is bad for people holding that currency when they need to buy products from a country whose currency is stronger than there's because they have to give up more of their money to get what they want. Gold going up doesn't affect me because most of my purchases do not consist of gold. I'm more concerned with the inflation of taxes, heath care, food, and fuel because these are the most important items I need to pay for.
Scott November 24, 2011 at 07:01 PM
The author just delivers the facts. You can't argue with the numbers.
Robert Demarco November 25, 2011 at 03:01 PM
My feeling all through the election season this year was that the Republicans tactic was to distract the voters by getting them (us) to focus on thisso called tax freeze nonsense and not on the real issues, which are the economy, the HUB, and corruption. Apparently this tactic worked, or the electorate does not care that we are being ripped off by these politicians and their friends, because they all got re-elected. These politicians rely on an apathetic populace so they can do as they please. Whenever they do something worthwhile they pat themselves on the back via those self-serving mailings that come to our homes, at our expense. This has been their motus operandi for years, and the voters bless it by electing these people.
Susan November 26, 2011 at 01:45 PM
Robert- You keep mentioning Republican. She obviously doesn't believe in the same conservative fiscal matters that most Republicans believe in. This is a TOH issue which both sides are upset about. It's extremely infortunate that residents have no idea about what is going on.
Robert Demarco November 26, 2011 at 02:01 PM
Hi, Cathy. A belated happy Thanksgiving. I mention Republican because they are the party in power. The context of my post was Republican campaign strategy. They were the ones hyping the so called tax freeze. They get elected because they get their beneficiaries and benefactors to turn out for the vote.
Concerned American November 28, 2011 at 05:29 PM
So the "Tax Revolt" party raised the amount spent by 3% by using our (that's right the money is our money they hold as a surplus! not their money) and use it to employ their friends and cronies, including the hacks at the dog shelter, and no one is the wiser. The bond rating they hold is based on the surplus we pay. No worries, they will squander the money, and in the end we will have higher taxes with less services as their friends retire, take a huge pension, and pass the cost on to us, as the surplus is depleted. Are your streets looking better or worse? Is your snow removal getting better or worse? Are your parks looking better or worse? It's not a Republican thing - these people never have to sweat their next paycheck - that's left to the taxpayers.
Bill Alderman November 28, 2011 at 08:06 PM
The Morons of Syosset will not allow Bill Taubman build there. Turning down much needed jobs and income and influx to the Nassau County coffers . 17 years of frustration and stalling and financial loss. Maybe he'd be willing to change his plans, cut a deal and come to the hub? Are you listening MR Mangano? Are you listening MR Wang? Helllloooooooooo?????
Catherine Mary November 28, 2011 at 08:21 PM
Robert, apparently this is a different Cathy than you may think it is. I haven't been writing on the Patch much since the election. Just been busy, Hope you had a happy and healthy holiday.
Catherine Mary November 28, 2011 at 08:26 PM
Wasn't loving having two Cathy's here, so I changed my account to Catherine Mary. I enjoyed the great debates before the election. Can't really divulge my last name. Don't want my employer to figure out who this is :-) I will continue to log in and comment when something catches my interest under this new ID.
Robert Demarco November 28, 2011 at 08:45 PM
Sorry, Cathy. There was a Cathy who participated significantly bfore the election, and we used to go back and forth.
Robert Demarco November 28, 2011 at 08:47 PM
So Catherine Mary, you are the "old" Cathy?
Catherine Mary November 28, 2011 at 10:22 PM
Yes, I am now the poster previously known as Cathy :-). My new ID is the full name bestowed upon me by my Sainted Irish Mother
Robert Demarco November 29, 2011 at 01:08 PM
Hello, Catherine Mary. The boards have been very quiet since the election. I am sure that something will come along to stimulate our interest.
Felix Procacci December 09, 2011 at 03:48 AM
Some more stuff residents should know about the Town of Hempstead Budget : http://www.liherald.com/elmont/stories/Letters-to-the-Franklin-SquareElmont-Herald-Dec-1-7,36501
Florence Trunk December 02, 2012 at 01:06 AM
Just wondering???What does the "General Fund" include? I see it on the tax bill but haven't heard a good explanation of what it covers. You folks seem very informed on TOH & NC matters. I would appreciate it if you could enlighten me. Thanks.

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