Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano is touting holding the line on property taxes in his proposed 2017 budget, but if the budget is approved by the Nassau County legislature, residents will still feel the pinch as the county makes up the revenue from sources including increased traffic and parking ticket fees, recreational and bus fees.
The major operating funds—general, police headquarters, police district, debt service and fire prevention—make up $3 billion of the budget. In the proposed budget, Mangano says that while economic indicators—such as the return of middle-class jobs, increase of home values and a low unemployment rate—are on the rise, revenue enhancements are necessary to fund public safety costs. The proposed budget includes hiring 150 police officers, bringing the number of sworn personnel from 2,350 to 2,500. In addition, police civilian staff will increase by 81 positions. These positions include police communication operators, security officers and police service aides who perform technical administrative functions that were previously performed by sworn members and intelligence analysts.
To fund these police department hires and overtime payments, the county is proposing a $105 fee for traffic and parking tickets. Currently, a red light ticket carries a $50 fine and $45 administrative charge, a $95 total the $105 charge would be added to. A parking violation such as parking in a no standing zone, blocking a driveway, blocking a curb ramp or parking too close to a fire hydrant usually costs $155 or $180 total, with $145 coming from fines and fees and $10/$35 coming from a surcharge; that total would jump up to $260 or $285 if the new fee is adopted.
“The public safety fee will be assessed upon all parking and traffic notice of liability (NOL) violations to safeguard, facilitate and encourage the health, safety and welfare of the residents and businesses of the County,” the budget reads. “This funding mechanism is required to preserve a quality level of police protection and public safety within Nassau County.”
However, many local residents didn’t quite see the new hike the same way.
“Using violators to fund parts of any community is inappropriate,” said Charles Taylor, while Manhasset’s Eileen Petruzillo Cuneo called the measure “absurd.”
“I can’t say I’m overly surprised by an increase,” said Will Gace from Farmingdale. “Especially since they got rid of the school zone speeding tickets, which would have been an insane source of revenue. If the government fails at getting your money one way, they can always increase something we’ve already deemed an acceptable source.”
Fee changes are also proposed for museums and recreational activities, including golf, camping, swimming and cabana rentals. Also proposed for an increase is the cost of bus fare from $2.75 to $3.25 per ride. Residents can voice their opinions on the budget during a public hearing on Monday, Oct. 31 at 1 p.m. at the Nassau County Legislature, 1550 Franklin Ave. in Mineola.
To learn more about the budget, visit www.nassaucountyny.gov/DocumentCenter/View/17004.