To ensure a fair and clear assessment program for Nassau County businesses and residents, the entire process should be shifted to the towns and cities in which they are located. This method is in place for nearly every county in New York State. Residents, business owners, and elected officials are the ones who would have a better understanding of realistic property values within their towns and cities. They are on the "front lines" of what is occurring in their constituencies. In many cases, there have been projects in the developmental stages that could possibly impact current or future property values. A fair market value of all properties that would be kept in place for a period of five years, for example, eliminates the need for many homeowners to continually retain an attorney to grieve their taxes.
For sure the first step in restoring public trust and enhancing accountability is to increase transparency which in turn serves to fortify oversight and checks and balances. Recent events have made it painfully apparent that the existing structure of the Nassau County Board of Ethics just doesn't work. What is needed is a complete overhaul of the board, as well as the rules and requirements governing their functions. A five-member Board of Ethics should include members of both political parties and it's a good idea to have the participation of county residents who meet certain professional criteria. Posting contracts online, requiring elected and appointed officials to file an even more detailed disclosure of their finances is what our taxpayers deserve. As a member of the Legislature, it would be my obligation to county taxpayers to ask questions and ensure that the vetting and disclosure processes are met.
Municipalities require new housing developments to set aside a percentage for first-time buyers. Other developers build or re-designate a project for age 55 and older. Municipalities can revisit their zoning code to meet the needs of the community. Our millennials are the most educated generation to date and face formidable student loan debt. Our seniors manage a fixed income so they can live in the home they worked long and hard to maintain. Our middle class families, many wtih both parents working, must balance the cost of child care, paying rent or their mortgage, and daily living expenses. As a retired widow and parent of a millennial, I live these stress factors daily. Our young adults need reliable public transportation to their jobs. A job whose salary in many cases doesn't cover Nassau rents, utilities, car and health insurance, etc. The need for affordable housing is real. How else can we keep our children and grandchildren in Nassau?
Whether an independent redistricting commission for drawing the lines of Nassau County after the 2020 census is set up or not, I am in favor of a real effort to create districts that make sense. Legislative District 11, for which I am a candidate to represent, was formerly Legislative District 18. In the geographical area of the 18th District it was easy to meet constituents even as casually as running into them at the local supermarket. District-wide meetings, child car seat safety checks, the County mammogram van were easily accessible to constituents. After the last census the new district that was created eliminated entire communities and incorporated new ones. The new 11th District is an expansive, constituency incorporating communities that really don't resemble each other and requires constituents to travel long distances for important and informative meetings.
Its simple. We need a qualified assessor who knows how to create better quality and more accurate assessments that won't result in unfair taxes for county residents and expensive refunds for the county government.
Myself and my Democratic colleagues have been fighting for more than two years to bring an Independent Inspector General to Nassau so to add an independent set of eyes to a county procurement process that was ripe for waste, fraud and abuse of taxpayer funds. We believe that trust, honesty and integrity should be absolutely expected of each elected official, but there also needs to be checks and balances to breed independence and integrity in government. It's simple; an independent inspector general could reform Nassau government and restore public trust. We want it, and have filed the independent inspector general bill numerous times over the last two years because we believe it's important in reforming Nassau to restore confidence in government for the thousands of Nassau residents who joined us in this fight and signed onto a petition to bring it to a referendum vote.
Both myself and the Democratic Legislators have been on board with Governor Cuomo's shared service model to begin to make real efficiencies in government. We look forward to continuing to build on that model to achieve real taxpayer savings through intermunipal cooperation.
I believe we should have a independent Redistricting commission in 2020 and always. Nassau and Long Island have a growing diverse population that due to the gerrymandering have been silenced by division of districts. I believe we create an independent commission by revising the charter. We need to not just fight for independent restrictions of how people are appointed; but we must also revise the charter to allow for a more strict expectation of execution of the voting rights act as well as regulations that ensure that communities aren't divided for political advantage.