Monday, November 11, 2013

Our Town

Our Town
“Such a nice place to live and raise family”

Election Day, 2013, has come and gone and now is the time for all the citizens of  Huntington Township to come together, hold hands, and sing “koom-by-ya”. If you believe that, I have a bridge for sale in Brooklyn (real cheap).

*        The Town of Huntington is located in northwestern Suffolk County, New York. The Long Island Sound forms         its northern border, and Nassau County forms the western border. Huntington was named an All-America City in 2002 by the National Civic League.” [1]
*        The 2010 census indicates that the population of the town is 203, 264. A 2007 estimate indicates that the median income for a household in Huntington was $102,865. The population of Huntington is predominantly young, with over 60% of resident being under the age of 45.” [1]
Villages in the Town of Huntington [1]
·         Asharoken
·         Huntington Bay
·         Lloyd Harbor
·         Northport
 Hamlets in the Town of Huntington [1]
·      Centerport
·      Cold Spring Harbor
·      Commack
·      Dix Hills
·      East Northport
·         Eatons Neck
·         Elwood
·         Fort Salonga
·         Greenlawn
·         Halesite
·         Huntington Station
·         Huntington
·         Melville
·         South Huntington
·         West Hills

It isn’t rocket science to figure out that we live in one of the more affluent areas of the entire Country. Say you assumed an average household of four (4) people that would give you approximately 50,800 total households in Huntington Township. With a total of $102,865.00 a year per household, we are looking at a very large number from which the Town draws its revenues:
            $5,225,542,000.00………………………………………..over 5 billion dollars.
            The Town’s budget for 2014 is $185,200,000.00……close to 200 million.
So, the Town needs about 3.5% of our earnings to function. Why is it then that in a working class neighborhood we are paying almost double (x2) that percentage in Real Estate Taxes to the Town of Huntington Tax Collector? And, guess what? We haven’t even touched all the other revenue streams that the Town relies on; permits & fees, business taxes, State & Federal Funding, etc. We’re not talking highs and lows. We’re talking middle class, average, median income levels per household. It is very apparent that our Town’s tax code has gotten so far out of hand that we are paying an exorbitant amount of money for a set of basic services. Does anyone in this Town ever take even a cursory glance at their Tax Bill? By the way this Town votes every Election Day, I would have to reach the conclusion that only a very few of us know how to add, subtract, multiply, and divide. And, most of those who do seem to end up behind closed doors at Town Hall making deals and spending money that we citizens simply don’t have.

Take a look at the “Referendum” voting from last week. If you actually read these, you would see the length to which our elected officials will go to keep their hands in your wallet.
“1. Do we want casinos?
                        Yes: 1,408,845 | No: 1,052,724 [2]
            2. Do we give disabled veterans additional civil service credit after they have been    
      appointed to a civil service position?
                        Yes: 1,931,932No: 377,972 [2]
            3. For the next ten (10) years, do we want to keep the debt from sewer systems out of
     the Town borrowing cap?
                        Yes: 1,331,389No: 808,552 [2]
            4. Do we want to litigate a bunch of old, disputed land titles in the Adirondacks?
                        Yes: 1,543,486No: 587,456 [2]
            5. Do we want to let NYCO Minerals rights to mine another 200 acres upstate?
                        Yes: 1,128,067No: 995,656 [2]
            6. Do we want to let Judges serve until they are eighty (80) years old?
                        Yes: 911,503 | No: 1,407,189 [2]
            7. Do we want to let municipal fire districts, ambulance districts, police districts and
                library districts to expand on Town owned property?
                        Yes: 105,020No: 58,143” [2]

A majority of these outcomes should be at least a little troubling to the tax payers in this Town. Do we want casinos? Yes, it would be nice to keep a chunk of our gambling dollars here in New York, but don’t believe for a moment that the revenue will go for education, as advertised. Do we want to give disabled veterans a bit of a break? Of course we do, and we should seriously consider doing a whole lot more for veterans. We certainly should be in favor of settling land ownership disputes in upstate New York, and this needs to be done with the Adirondack environment in mind.
Judges are up for mandatory retirement at the age of seventy (70) which is too old by at least ten (10) years, but, no, we don’t want to extend their retirement to eighty (80) years old. That’s a serious “WTF” proposal!

That brings us to #3, #5, and #7.  #3 allows the Town to discount any cost of borrowing for the sewer district from the normal accounting of the Town debt/borrowing cap. This, in effect, allows the Town to borrow more money in each category, thus spending more of the money none of us have. #5 deals with the immediate future of a chemical additive product company that has been allowed to strip-mine in the Adirondacks. It extends their reach into another two hundred (200) acres of pristine forest. Despite promises and contractual liabilities, strip-miming in upstate New York is a problem we can all do without. #7 is another very local, high impact proposition. The Town owns, or has the development rights to, some very attractive properties. By allowing this proposition to pass, we are telling the Town service agencies that they can tie these properties up with minimum stalling and legal tactics for decades. There may well come a time when other uses for these properties are a more definite benefit to the Town’s population. Why would we vote to hand complete and utter stewardship of this land over to our “behind closed doors” political structure?

With the aforementioned 50,800 total households in Huntington Township, we actually turned out a good number of voters last Tuesday; about 30%. Based on past numbers, this is not bad for an off-year election. With this number in attendance, I would have thought that reading might go hand-in-hand with mathematics, and we would finally come to our collective senses and stop the spending spree that the current, old administration gets away with year after year after year. Only the voters have a dog in this fight, and only voters can elect folks to Town positions who will act on our behalf. For too long now we have been hostage to the back room deals, the crony-ism, the behind closed doors, secret, weekend decision making that is going to bankrupt this place we call home. There are alternatives. Pick one, and go with it next time your mark your ballots.

            [1] Home  » Towns » Suffolk County » Huntington Township

            [2] Statewide and county ballot referendums, originally published: October 17, 2013 3:42 PM
                                Updated: November 5, 2013 8:34 PM, By NEWSDAY STAFF


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