Editor, Northport Patch:
Village residents attending the Feb. 1 Northport Village Board meeting grew restless as the details of the newly enacted sewage fee, unanimously adopted as of Aug. 3, 2010 came up for discussion.
Mayor’s George Doll’s Board of Trustees, spearheaded by Deputy Mayor Henry Tobin, Commissioner of Finance, initiated this legislation so as to raise $200,000 to finance the sewage plant.
They call it a “fee,” but in essence it’s a tax which residents still have to dig deep into their pockets to come up with on a month’s notice.
Residents on the sewage line face having to pay from $100 to $1,000, while business owners have to ante up anywhere from $1,000 to $8,500 dollars.
This will not only be burdensome to homeowners but will also have a devastating impact on businesses, which will likely lead to more shops closing on Main Street, making Northport a virtual ghost town. I say this because when you add this year’s 6% Village tax increase into the “fee,” business owners will face a 25% to 100% total tax increase this year.
Quite frankly, the Village Board appears to be short of cash and is looking for any alternative means of securing funds; however, in their haste to come up with something, Mr. Tobin and the board proposed the current law. The result is that Mayor Doll’s Board has created a serious problem, in that bills mailed on Jan. 25, stated the fee was for a period from September 2009 through June 2010, but the law was adopted as of August 3, 2010.
Mayor Doll should have known that you cannot charge a fee retroactively. Local business owners, two of whom include former village mayors, [Panarites and Nolan & Taylor-Howe owner Peter Nolan are both former mayors of Northport Village] have met and will challenge this in the supreme court. If and when the village loses the lawsuit, they will be faced with a $200,000 shortfall for the 2011-2012 budget.
These are difficult financial times, not only for homeowners but for small businesses on Main Street as well. The Village Board should not increase taxes but rather look for ways to cap and reduce spending.
Mr. Tobin’s solution is to create bonds, which is not a viable solution since that only leads to higher taxes in the future.
Even though I agree with the board that health insurance costs and existing contractual obligations have contributed to the shortfall, I believe that there are other areas where our board could have been more prudent in spending our tax dollars.
For example, the Superintendent of Public Works [Joe Correia] retired last year and the Village Board hired a replacement [Gene Guido]. It thereafter rehired the retiree as a consultant at a cost to the taxpayer of approximately $700 per week.
In addition, poor negotiations with unions will have a great impact on future budgeting and will cause substantial tax increases in the future. Case in Point: the thirteen-year Police Union contract, which will increase taxes substantially over the next decade.
Good times or bad, just get ready. A financial tsunami is on the horizon and without strong leaders to depend on, the result could be devastating for us all.