Mineola tax levy flat for 2nd straight year

Mineola tax levy flat for 2nd straight year
Mineola Village Hall is seen in 2016. (Photo by Noah Manskar)

The Village of Mineola’s property tax levy will likely stay flat for a second straight year, but that’s not preventing new spending on needed upgrades, officials said Wednesday.

The village’s proposed $22.8 million budget for the 2017-18 fiscal year shows a 2.1-percent spending increase over the current year. But the $13.3 million block of revenue from property taxes is not set to change.

If the budget is approved, Mineola will have grown its tax levy by less than 0.5 percent over the past four years, Mayor Scott Strauss said.

“We’re in a great financial position,” Strauss said at Wednesday’s Village Board meeting.

A $285,000 increase health insurance costs, driven by changes to federal health care regulations, accounts for most of the new spending, village Treasurer Giacomo Ciccone said.

But the village is also adding $70,000 for road maintenance, spending a total of $720,000. The amount has steadily ramped up in recent years as workers try to fix as many roads as possible, Strauss said.

Payments from the developers of Mineola’s four downtown apartment complexes help the village absorb those cost increases without raising taxes, Strauss said.

Two of the buildings near the Long Island Rail Road station are open and occupied, and plans are moving forward for two others. They contain more than 1,000 apartments combined.

“Hundreds of thousands of dollars” annually come from payments developers make under tax-break deals with the Nassau County Industrial Development Agency and separate “host community benefit agreements” with the village, Strauss said.

“Mineola’s taken a strong hold and a great turn, making great strides in revitalizing the downtown plan, which started a decade ago,” he said.

The village is also expecting a total of $190,000 in additional revenue from county mortgage recording taxes, franchise fees from telecommunications companies and other fines and fees. The latter is due to a more “aggressive” approach to collecting fines for code violations, Scalero said.

The apartment building deals have also made borrowing unnecessary, Strauss said, allowing the village to cut its total debt from $45 million in 2004 to $10.5 million today.

Mineola could be debt free in six to seven years if no large, unexpected expenses arise, Strauss said.

Skeptics of the village’s residential development initiatives have raised concerns about the buildings straining traffic and infrastructure and about tax breaks for developers hurting Mineola’s finances.

But “the negative impact that everybody was concerned about, and we had concerns about, didn’t materialize,” and the village and its businesses have benefitted from new residents.

The Village Board will vote to adopt the budget following a public hearing on April 12 at 6:30 p.m.

Also on Wednesday, trustees unanimously approved a special use permit for Super FL Market, a supermarket that will take over a former King Kullen location at 52 E. Jericho Turnpike.

The owner of Super FL Market, Weilin Zhang of Maspeth, Queens, plans to open his 12th store there following King Kullen’s closure in October 2014, he said last month.

“Hopefully that store will open very quickly and we get a supermarket back in Mineola,” Strauss said.

“Once they open, I hope you make them successful,” he added.

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