There is no question that system is broken and is unfair to most of our corporate and residential property owners. This broken system and County Guarantee has weighed down our county budget to the tune of almost 100 million dollars. It has spawned a cottage industry of tax grievance companies that do well for themselves but do nothing to help fix the problem.
First of all, this is not the right model for Nassau County. We are one of only two counties in NY State that do property assessment at a County level. Every other property tax jurisdiction does it at the town level. We must work with our town governments to set up the proper expertise and assessment schedule so that our property owners feel that their tax share is fair. I will work with my colleagues on both sides of the isle in Nassau and officials in Albany to change the legislation and put the right model in for Nassau County. Resolving this issue is vital to balancing the county budget and taking us out from under NIFA.
Re-building the public trust begins with how I conduct myself and represent you. Over the last ten years as a Civic Leader, Business Executive, Entrepreneur and Activist, I have effectively worked elected officials on both sides of the isle and am humbled and proud to be widely regarded as a person of integrity who “says what he means and means what he says”. I feel honored that colleagues and business associates alike respect my honesty; clear-sightedness and willingness find common ground for the greater good. For this reason I do not celebrate the missteps of elected officials whatever their political party affiliation.
I support the implementation of comprehensive ethics reforms to weed out and stave off corruption in order to restore public trust in county government including term limits. As a former Auditor and Fraud Examiner I intrinsically understand that Nassau County cannot effectively “turn the page” without substantial controls to improve transparency and accountability.
Whether as Executive Director of Action Long Island, (a business advocacy organization), or a member of the Long Island Sustainable Business Council, I have been a leader in the fight for regional economic improvement. I support economically sustainable and environmentally responsible growth in Nassau County and believe that communities are best served when all stakeholders are fully informed and everyone has an opportunity to be heard.
I remain a vocal supporter of the Country Pointe at Old Bethpage development; am actively working with stakeholders of the Westbury Downtown Revitalization project which includes transit oriented housing for young adults and working families; am following closely the Hicksville Downtown Revitalization project and am engaged with key stakeholders of the Cerro Wire development in Syosset. All these projects have the potential to significantly boost our local economy through additional housing, jobs, a broadened tax base and increased consumer activity.
New York State law unambiguously places the responsibility for the adoption of legislative district lines for Nassau County with the Nassau County Legislature. The Nassau County Charter, adopted by referendum, mandates a process that engages a broad spectrum of political expertise and public input. New York State Law and legal guidance from both state and federal courts provide for standards that can objectively allow decision makers to adopt a plan that protects the constitutional goal of "one person, one vote".
As Legislator, I will always be willing to discuss improvements to this process. However, the law and the democratic process place this great responsibility in elected officials, not unaccountable political appointees, and in the words of the former Nassau County Presiding Officer Judy Jacobs, "The job of redistricting is up to the County Legislature.”
In order to reform the unjust property tax system to provide businesses and homeowners with a transparent, fair and clear assessment program going forward, Nassau County must first employ a County Assessor who is qualified and experienced in properly conducting accurate assessments so as to prevent unfair taxes for Nassau COunty's hardworking families. Hiring a qualified Assessor will significantly reduce, if not eliminate, expensive refunds of millions of dollars each year (over 60 million) for County government.
For over two years, my Democratic colleagues and I have continually fought for the creation and installation of an independent Inspector General for Nassau County. The current procurement process necessitates the additional, independent oversight in order to prevent further fraud, waste, abuse, and misuse of taxpayer funds, and to provide a set of checks and balances that are badly needed in order to restore the public's trust and faith in the integrity of their elected officials. The independent Inspector General will reform Nassau County's government by increasing government transparency and accountability in ensuring proper vetting of contracts to avoid costly corruption and patronage. We welcome these reforms as a means of restoring the public's confidence, as reflected by the numerous times we have filed this bill, and by the signatures of thousands who stood with us in this fight and signed onto a petition to bring this important decision before voters on a ballot referendum.
First, I support and will work with the Governor's shared service model in order to implement real efficiencies and streamline government. My colleagues and I look forward to expanding this model in order to generate and maximize real savings for taxpayers through inter-municipal coordination. Re-allocation of resources and restructuring of responsibilities must be done in a smart, thorough, and careful way so as to identify areas of waste without causing large numbers of job losses for hardworking families.
Savings created through the sharing of services, in conjunction with supporting“smart growth” zoning laws and land use policies, can be used to help to create more affordable housing for young adults, working families, and seniors in existing communities and in proximity to transit facilities, transit-oriented communities.
I firmly support the creation of an independent redistricting commission not only following the 2020 census, but always. Nassau County's diverse constituency has been heavily subjected to gerrymandering, which, fueled by political motivation rather than by the motivation of elected officials to best represent the members of their constituencies, has resulted in the silencing and division of districts. Our fight for independent oversight and increased oversight must extend beyond the appointment and procurement processes.In order to do so, the Nassau County charter must be clearly and explicitly revised to give way to the expansion of the Voting Rights Act. Additionally, protections must be adopted and enacted to sustainably prevent communities from being divided for political advantage in the future.