With just three weeks until the village election, mayoral candidate Larry Werther confronted the village board at last Wednesday’s board meeting where accusations were sent flying against the current administration.
The meeting began when trustee Dennis Walsh discussed the organization Vision Long Island, who has awarded Mineola with several different awards for the development that is happening downtown. Walsh and Mayor Scott Strauss attended Vision Long Island’s 20th anniversary gala earlier this month.
“One of the speakers was [County Executive] Laura Curran who talked about the need for smart growth and development around the train stations in an effort to maintain the tax base in Nassau County because the population in Nassau County is on the decline,” said Walsh.
When Werther approached the podium, he responded to Walsh.
“Trustee Walsh, you mentioned about Vision Long Island and how the county executive brought up how we need to increase our tax base,” said Werther. “I agree with that 100 percent. One Third Ave. which is the building where the KeySpan building stood is currently assessed at more than $63 million. That building should be throwing off $4 million in school taxes alone, not to mention the county taxes, police patrol taxes, police district taxes and North Hempstead taxes.”
Werther claimed that One Third Ave. has less total taxes than other buildings in the village like Katz Flooring because the board allegedly saw fit to endorse a 20-year tax break on developments such as One Third Ave.
Strauss rebutted saying that the developers at One Third Ave. were allowed by state law to go to the International Development Association (IDA).
“If they [the developers] didn’t go to the IDA, they wouldn’t have built the buildings and we’d have an abandoned building on our hands instead of a thriving apartment building,” said Strauss. “They’ve already paid $487 thousand to the school district.”
Strauss said that the school district is benefiting nicely from the new developments that are being built when Werther shot back at Strauss saying that the school district should have been paid more.
“I don’t control the school taxes,” explained Strauss. “The school board does. We’re made 90 percent whole on village taxes. Within the last several years, the village residents and business owners have gotten a 0 percent tax increase. These tax IDA projects that have gone up three percent have to pay more every year. So they’re getting hit a little more than we are.”
Village attorney John Gibbons reminded Werther that the village did not vote the tax break, the IDA does.
Werther also said that he has an ongoing problem with the current administration, mainly stemming from an incident that happened during the 2016 trustee election.
“I filed a notice of claim after the last election because you violated my right to equal protection under the law,” said Werther. “There were four candidates who wrote biographies and only I followed the guidelines. You allowed current board members to blatantly disregard regulations. I was the only one to follow the rules and yet you found it necessary to edit out the fact that I spoke out against giving wealthy developers massive 20 year tax breaks.”
In the past, Werther has accused village clerk Joseph Scalero of deleting material from a biography he submitted for an election bulletin that was mailed to every resident within Mineola. Werther had another bone to pick with Scalero as well.
“I recently sent Mr. Scalero an email requesting the number of signatures required to get on the ballot for this current March’s election,” explained Werther. “I was told that the village clerk does not give legal advice. When I discussed his response with the New York State Board of Elections, I believe the word unconscionable was used.”
Werther also stated at the meeting that he has been made aware of a whisper campaign against him amongst village firefighters. Werther says that firefighters are being told that he voted against Length of Service Award Programs (LOSAP) which Werther says isn’t the case.
“If anything, when I was on the board I wanted to expand the LOSAP program,” said Werther. “I even brought in professional management to oversee the funds of the LOSAP program.”
Strauss responded that he wasn’t aware of any whisper campaign against Werther.
The next village board meeting is Wednesday, March 7, at 7:30 p.m. at village hall.
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