BY MADELINE ARMSTRONG
Pedram Bral, mayor of the Village of Great Neck, on Tuesday rejected claims that the village tax levy would be raised and that the village had lost its triple-A rating.
At a meeting of the Board of Trustees, he addressed a flurry of statements that have been posted about the board on Facebook in a group titled “Moms and Dads of Great Neck.”
Posts made by the administrator of the group, Kate Goldberg, claimed that the tax levy would be raised, village hall construction will cost $10 million and the village lost its triple-A rating. All of which are unfounded, according to Bral.
“Unfortunately what you [Goldberg] do is nothing but mislead the community,” Bral said. “We don’t expect to increase our tax levy as we have not increased our tax levy in the past six years.” Additionally, he said that the village hall construction has not gone to bids, so there is no projected cost as of now. Bral also said that the village did not lose its triple-A rating. “We have not lost our rating,” he said. “We have just not been rated yet.”
During the public hearing portion of the meeting, Goldberg voiced many concerns to the board. “Our quality of life in the village has gone down,” she said. “Our streets are in disrepair … You obviously don’t have enough reserves to offset unexpected cost reliefs. We don’t have trust.”
The board addressed her concerns, saying that the claims she made were not factually correct. Bral announced that the board would hold an event, “Coffee with the Mayor,” where residents can come and address concerns that they have about the community with him.
Then, one resident came forward to say his son was “racially profiled and harassed by a white couple” in his neighborhood. “What they did was reprehensible and I want you guys to note that,” he said.
Bral responded by saying, “Even though I don’t believe that systemic racism exists, I do know that racism does exist.” Systemic racism, also known as institutional racism, is a form of racism that appears in societal disparities in such areas as wealth, criminal justice, employment and housing.
However, Bral sympathized with the resident. “Great Neck is a very diverse area. Despite our disagreements, we have a lot more in common than we are different,” he said. “I think for a person of color to be picked on just because of their color is appalling.”
Bral kicked off the meeting by announcing that face masks will be optional in schools starting on Wednesday.
“My children were ecstatic,” he said, noting the long-awaited decision that many parents have been fighting for at school board meetings.
At the conclusion of the meeting, Bral wished everyone well and emphasized the importance of spreading correct information. “Try not to make stuff up and put it on Facebook,” he said.