Court fight looms over sanitation district
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Officials from a Baldwin-based sanitation district are scheduled to be in court next month to face residents who want the district dissolved and say officials illegally campaigned against the dissolution.
Residents gathered 5,386 signatures supporting the dissolution of Sanitary District 2, which serves more than 50,000 people. Theirs is the most wide-scale attempt to date to abolish a government body under a state law passed in 2009 that allows for such action. A referendum on the dissolution will likely take place in November.
A group of residents that support the dissolution, Residents for Efficient Special Districts, have sued the district in Nassau County Supreme Court, alleging district officials have campaigned against dissolution.
The lawsuit, which also includes the Long Island Progressive Coalition as a complainant, seeks to prevent the district from campaigning. But an attorney for the district said its officials have been distributing fact sheets about the district and the referendum.
The lawsuit is due in court on Sept. 19 in Mineola.
"The whole purpose of the suit is to prevent the sanitation district from spending taxpayer dollars to fight the taxpayer," said Laura Malley, executive director of Residents for Efficient Special Districts.
Ken Gray, an attorney for the district, said its officials are trying to keep the public informed. "We want to make sure the constituents have the accurate information before they go to the polls," Gray said.
Petitioners say Sanitary District 2's taxes, which average more than $500 per year, per home, are twice as high as they would be if the service was provided by Hempstead Town.
The residents are demanding the end of the sanitation district under the New York Government Reorganization and Citizen Empowerment Act, which was approved in 2009. The act allows residents to trigger a referendum by collecting signatures from 10 percent of the district's voters, or 5,000 voters, whichever is less.
The district's board of commissioners is set to meet on Friday to set a referendum date, which must take place within 60 to 90 days, Gray said.