District won't be dissolved, voters decide
Residents of a Baldwin-based sanitation district voted Wednesday night to keep things as they are.
Sanitary District 2, which serves more than 50,000 people, asked residents to vote in a special election on whether to keep or dissolve the district.
Opponents of the district said their tax bills -- more than $500, on average -- would be lower if Hempstead Town provided the garbage service instead. But district backers said dissolution would cut jobs and hurt service.
Pete Arnold, a Baldwin firefighter, said he voted against dissolution to save jobs.
"It's very important that we keep people working," he said. "You have to help the community any way you can."
But South Hempstead resident Laura Mallay, who helped lead the dissolution drive, said the vote was a chance for residents to lower their own property taxes.
"It's an opportunity to fight back against the status quo," she said.
The dissolution would have been the largest of its kind under state law approved three years ago.
That law allows citizens to force a referendum by collecting signatures from 10 percent of the district's voters, or 5,000 voters, whichever is less. Sanitary District 2 serves about 55,000 people in Baldwin, Roosevelt, South Hempstead and parts of adjoining communities.
The sanitation district would have had to craft a plan for a new service provider. Hempstead Town would have had to issue a vote of approval if it was tapped to provide service, town spokesman Mike Deery has said.
Before the voting began, Kenneth Gray, an attorney for the district, said he expected the community to come out in support of Sanitary 2.
"We anticipate great voter turnout. We are cautiously optimistic that the referendum will result in the district staying in place," he said.
But members of the Long Island Progressive Coalition, one of the groups that campaigned for dissolution, said they expected voter frustration with high taxes to win out.
"Residents of Sanitary District 2 have consistently paid nearly double the taxes of their neighbors who live in the Town of Hempstead collection areas, prompting the massive signature gathering effort," coalition spokesman David Segal said in a statement.
Segal added the district is one of more than 200 special taxing districts in Nassau County and faces "little oversight" by government.