Nassau committee OKs $15 million in fee hikes; Democrats call them 'tax increases'
A series of Nassau County fee increases were approved by the county legislature's Republican-led rules committee Monday -- setting up the proposed hikes for a full vote before the legislature later this month.
The proposed fees and increases put forth by County Executive Edward Mangano include a $2 increase for daily parking passes at Nickerson Beach, a $1 admission increase for county museums and a new $125 registration fee required for county vendors.
Administration officials said the increases could generate $15 million in new revenue for the county, which would be used to offset the cost of new labor contracts, but Democrats voted against the increases, which they described as "tax increases."
"These fee increases are nothing but backdoor tax increases and they will have a stifling effect on small businesses in Nassau County," county Legis. Dave Denenberg (D-Merrick) said.
Various county department officials defended the increases before lawmakers, noting they would also help defray administrative costs incurred by each department, or in some cases offer services at a lower price than the private sector.
"This service allows us to give them a map that's $100 cheaper than what they would pay in the private sector," Deputy County Attorney Dan Valentino told lawmakers about an Assessment Department proposal to create and charge for radius maps, which are required when a property owner needs a permit or a variance from a town or village.
The Rules Committee also approved a measure requesting the State Legislature to pass a bill allowing Nassau to revamp its property tax reimbursement system.
For years, Nassau has turned to borrowing to pay for million in property tax refunds owed to property owners who successfully grieved assessments in court.
Mangano aide Ed Ward said the measure requiring state approval would create a "pay as you go" method for the county to pay reimbursements.
Ward said the administration planned to provide more details of the plan Tuesday.
In other news:
The Rules Committee approved a proposal to add 56 traffic cameras at school safety zones throughout the county. The measure already had gone before the full legislature when the county sought state approval to add the cameras. With state approval secured in April, the measure came before the committee again Monday and will come before the full legislature for a vote June 16.
In a special meeting, the legislature unanimously approved a measure requesting the state's permission to designate nearly a half-acre of land in Christopher Morley Park in Roslyn to house a water-treatment system. Several residents spoke against the measure.