North Hempstead Town Supervisor Jennifer DeSena on Tuesday called for an 11% tax cut to be included in the $158.4 tentative budget for 2023 she had previously proposed.
DeSena said the proposed tax cut would be the largest in the town’s history and would be paid for by tapping into reserves her office had recently discovered.
The town supervisor said the town’s current reserves are at least $26 million, well in excess of the minimum set by the town board in 2011.
That policy mandates a reserve equal to no less than 10% of the town’s general fund, a portion of the town budget that in 2021 was $71.1 million.
“It’s shocking that the Town Board has unnecessarily raised taxes on our already hard-pressed homeowners every year for a decade, knowing full well that there was more than enough in reserves to take some of the tax burden off North Hempstead homeowners,” DeSena said in a statement.
“The Town Board has overtaxed our residents for years simply because they could, and I am proud to end that practice today,” she continued. “My proposed 11% tax cut for our residents is the single largest tax cut in our Town’s history. Utilizing a portion of these bloated reserves will give our taxpayers some much-needed relief as inflation continues to skyrocket, the economy remains volatile, gas prices are climbing again, and New Yorkers continue to experience some of the highest property taxes in the nation.”
DeSena, who was elected as a Republican, submitted the tentative budget to the six other members of the Town Board on Sept. 28.
It called for a general fund tax levy increase of $569,600, or 2.12%, from the 2022 adopted budget and a 1.14% increase in town spending from $156.6 million to $158.4 million.
The original budget can be amended until the board votes to adopt it on Thursday, Nov. 3.
Town Board Democrats said they were given no notice about the use of reserves to cut taxes by DeSena and, therefore, could not yet comment on the proposed amendment.
“Unfortunately the supervisor thought it was more important to call a press conference about the Town’s budget rather than provide any information to her colleagues on the Board,” Town Councilman Peter Zuckerman said in a statement. “In the interest of transparency and in the spirit of collaboration, I would have hoped governing superseded grandstanding. We will now have to consult with our financial experts to determine whether or not this proposed amendment is fiscally prudent.”
DeSena said the proposed amendment would lead to approximately a $33 decrease per household for the general fund and keep the tax levy flat for the Town Outside Village Fund.
In the town’s $89,098,154 general fund for the original budget, $40.5 million was allocated to the outside village fund, which covers services for residents who live outside incorporated villages, and $28.8 million for the 20 town-operated special districts, which set their own budget.
The Town Outside Village Fund Tax Levy was previously increased from $27,970,865 to $28,874,137 in the original budget, a 3.22% increase that would increase taxes on the household by $28.88 according to town officials.
During the Sept. 22 town board meeting, the Democratic town board majority voted against setting budget workshop and hearings dates until the Sept. 28 meeting because the original dates DeSena submitted only gave the town board four business days to review the proposal, among other things.
DeSena’s proposed amendment comes two days before the board is set to have its first budget workshop on Thursday, Oct. 13.
The seven-member Town Board will be conducting two public work sessions at town hall on Oct. 13 at 10:30 a.m. and Oct. 20 at 7 p.m.
The Town Board is permitted to make changes and amendments during this period and, if necessary, add another public hearing on Oct. 25 at 6 p.m. when the tentative budget will become a preliminary budget.
A final special meeting is scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 3, when the board will vote to adopt the budget. North Hempstead’s Town Board has routinely adopted the town budget before Election Day., which this year is Nov. 8.