Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray has presented a 2013 Budget Proposal that reduces the total amount of taxes that will be collected in 2013. In addition to reducing the tax levy, Murray stated that her 2013-planned budget maintains all town services in full force while justifying the top-notch Wall Street credit ratings earned by her administration.
“In this difficult economy, neighbors are economizing and prioritizing their spending to make ends meet,” stated Murray. “Town residents deserve the same responsible budgeting and unflinching fiscal decision making from their government leaders. I am proud to present a budget that reduces total town taxes, controls spending under our discretion and justifies the highest Wall Street credit ratings available.”
The adage, “there are no shortcuts to any place worth going,” provides a clear message for government leaders to avoid fiscal gimmicks and budgetary sleight-of-hand in managing the people’s finances. The Supervisor noted that examples of fiscal irresponsibility by some municipalities include one Long Island government’s plan to sell a county office building in a “fast cash” scheme that will saddle the next generation of taxpayers with the cost of leasing back their own government offices over a 15-year period. Another local city has dug itself such a deep financial hole that it has sought as much as $15 million in deficit bailout monies from cash-strapped New York State. And, one Suffolk township is seeking a whopping 65% tax increase just to achieve fiscal balance. Murray explained that her budget plan avoids the types of fiscal maneuvers that only forestall tough budgetary decisions. Indeed, the Supervisor’s budget shuns gluttonous borrowing that mortgages our children’s future, does NOT rely on one-shot (non-recurring) revenues to achieve budgetary balance and controls costs under the town’s discretion.
“There are no shortcuts to responsible budgeting,“ stated Murray. “Taxpayers deserve straightforward, honest and accountable fiscal management from government leaders. My 2013 budget shows the highest regard for taxpayers by reducing the town’s tax levy without resorting to fiscal gimmicks.”
LISTEN TO WALL STREET
Unbiased and brutally honest, Wall Street credit rating agencies provide an important indication of how well governments manage the finances entrusted to them by taxpayers. By all accounts, Hempstead Town has done a superlative job, earning the highest Wall Street credit ratings available, besting the vast majority of local governments, New York State and the federal government. In assigning its top rating of Aaa to America’s largest township, the respected Moody’s Investor Service stated, “the Aaa rating reflects the town’s prudent fiscal management characterized by conservative budgeting practices, development of multi-year financial forecasts and formal fund balance policy…”
While some governments have borrowed to unsustainable levels instead of making tough decisions, Hempstead Town is actually reducing its debt service for the fourth consecutive year under the 2013 budget. In fact, debt service is down almost 15 percent in the 2013-spending plan vs. the 2010 debt service figure.
Another cost control initiative on the part of the town is a 1.2 percent reduction in budgeted salaries in the 2013 budget over the current year’s amount.
The town has also reduced the cost of government projects borne by local taxpayers by securing federal grants. Currently, the township has established a one-of-a-kind renewable energy park in Point Lookout, drawing upon a $4.6 million federal Department of Energy grant.
THE BOTTOM LINE—REDUCING THE TAX BURDEN
Hempstead Town’s 2013 spending plan is a model of fiscal restraint under which the town will reduce the total property tax burden borne by residents. The 0.5 percent tax reduction in this proposal constitutes $1.3 million. In addition to the $262.2 million in property taxes to be levied under this budget, non-property tax revenues include $15.3 million in mortgage recording revenues, $3.8 million in state per capita aid and $13.2 million in refuse disposal revenues. The 2013 budget totals $419.4 million.
INVESTING IN OUR QUALITY OF LIFE
It’s clear that Hempstead Town’s rock-solid finances, as well as our efficient and effective practice of engaging with the business community, have resulted in real and meaningful growth. At the same time, our government is investing directly in the local quality-of-life experience. A $50 million capital agenda is ensuring that local roads are upgraded and municipal facilities are enhanced. The pride and joy of our township’s capital improvement program is the construction of a 16,000 square-foot recreation and social center, which will serve young people with special needs. Furthermore, downtown beautification projects in Oceanside, Baldwin and Elmont are joining a host of other business district revitalization projects, which are keeping our local community centers vibrant and attractive.
NO SHORTCUTS TO MAKING THE RIGHT CHOICES
“Indeed, ‘there are no shortcuts to any place worth going.’ Public officials are elected to make tough choices in the area of government finance,” concluded Murray. “Budgetary shortcuts such as reckless borrowing and over-reliance on one shot revenues only forestall the tough budgetary decisions and mortgage our children’s future. I am proud to present a budget that is fiscally prudent, maintains all programs in full force and reduces the tax burden for Hempstead Town residents.”