Tax hikes center of Old Westbury mayor race
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Old Westbury Mayor Fred J. Carillo said property taxes have risen minimally in recent years, citing an average annual levy hike of 2.4 percent.
But Dr. Harvey Manes, founder of the Tax Reduction Party and challenger to Carillo's seat, said the impact on some individual homeowners is higher.
"Last year, my tax bill went up 20 percent and the value of my house went down half a million dollars," Manes said. "I want to get on the inside and reform the local government here."
The orthopedic surgeon, a married grandfather of three, called the current administration wasteful.
"The salaries are bloated out of control," he said. "They keep getting raises, and with retirement fees going up, there has to be a stop."
Carillo, 69, a commercial builder and married grandfather of six, argued the village is fiscally prudent.
The tax levy this year rose 1.75 percent, below the state's tax cap of 3.57 percent, he said.
"I take this position very seriously and I take it as a position of service to the community," said Carillo, of the Old Westbury Party and a resident since 1967.
He said his record of service -- four years as mayor and 16 as trustee -- includes securing conservation easements in the 1990s to buffer residences from the Long Island Expressway, which runs through the tony village of about 4,700.
Carillo said he helped the village weather Tropical Storm Irene and uses his building expertise to improve drainage and traffic. Verizon is installing "home run lines" for better communications between the Old Westbury police and Village Hall at his behest, he said.
"I want to respond to the residents as much as I can," said Carillo, who wants to increase the frequency of village newsletters and invites residents to attend board meetings.
Manes countered that many residents feel left out of the loop.
"There's no transparency," he said. "They're tremendously bureaucratic. It's difficult to get permits for tree removal, extensions, anything."
Manes, 64, a five-year resident with a law degree in addition to his medical degree, is advocating for natural gas as an energy option for homeowners, bicycle lanes, better-lit roads and a beach that Old Westbury residents can access.
He said he also wants to reduce noise from the expressway and low-flying commercial planes.
He added of the status quo: "When things are not good, they should change . . . I want to see if I can make that change a positive one."
Incumbent trustees Harvey Blau and Michael Wolf are running unopposed, also on the Old Westbury Party line.
Voting will be June 19 from noon to 9 p.m. at Village Hall, 1 Store Hill Rd.