Mineola Board OK’s Budget



The Village of Mineola Board of Trustees unanimously approved a $19.56 million budget with a zero percent tax levy increase at their meeting on Wednesday, April 13.

The proposed $19.56 million budget represents a $41,349 increase over the $19.52 million for 2015-16. When the budget was presented at the prior board meeting, Mineola Mayor Scott Strauss said the most significant factor in enabling the minimal tax rise is the result of the host benefits and incentive bonus deals he and the village trustees have struck with the developers over the past several years.He also said the village will receive $470,000 from two developers in various stages on four concurrent projects.

The zero percent increase tax levy is projected to generate revenues of $13,348,895 to support the budget.

The most tangible result of the $9 million the village has received in lieu of amenities from Lalezarian Developers and Mill Creek residential trust for their respective apartment complex projects is the renovated Memorial Park. The renovation has drawn $2 million from the village’s bonus development funds.

“Obviously you can’t argue with a zero percent increase. This is responsible budgeting,” said Mineola Deputy Mayor Paul Pereira.

He said the bonus development funds give the village latitude for implementing capital improvements or purchasing equipment.

The village will receive $226,094 this year, up from $196,039 under 20-year pacts the developers struck with the county Industrial Development Agency known as PILOTs or Payment In Lieu of Taxes.

Pereira said the village trustees had separately struck host community benefits agreements with the developers that require the builders to pay 90 percent of the taxes due on their properties over the term of the PILOT pacts.

But he said the developer deals are just one reason for the village’s strong fiscal position.

“This is all the result from the development income and smart budgeting that began 15 years ago,” Pereira said.

The smart budgeting he referred to was the steady reduction of debt, from a level of $33 million, that began when state Sen. Jack Martins was elected mayor.

The 2016-17 village budget projects a significant year-to-year reduction in total debt service payments on village bonds from $1.05 million to $718,823 and is a continuation of the ongoing debt reduction. Strauss said the reduction results from paying off serial debt of $330,000 this year.

Pereira said the village property reassessment several years ago adjusted commercial and residential values and effectively reduced the incidence of property tax appeals. The 2016-17 budget includes $300,000 for tax certiorari cases.

“It’s about planning for the future. And it’s pay as you go,” Pereira said.

The village master plan, which mapped out prospective commercial development, reasoned that construction of apartment buildings would encourage the influx of businesses to the downtown.

At its April 20 meeting, the village board will hold a public hearing on an application for a special use permit from Starbucks to open a location at 210 Station Plaza North, in the Mineola Long Island Rail Road plaza.

The coffee chain store would replace a convenience store at that location with what its application describes as a “grab and go” store containing no public seating.

Strauss said he is aware that some residents are concerned about the coffee store being proposed for the station plaza because of the additional traffic it could generate.

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