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Long IslandColumnistsJoye Brown

Good news for LI on sales tax revenue, housing market

It’s summer.

And high time for a vacation from the litany of issues that ail Long Island. So, let’s get behind some good news — scratch that, great news — about some of what’s going on in Nassau and Suffolk counties.

First up, Long Island, for the first time in a few years, is awash in sales tax money.

“People have more so-called buying power and the good news for us is that they’re buying,” Maurice Chalmers, head of Nassau’s legislative budget review office, said in an interview Monday.  

Last week, Chalmers gave the latest numbers to Nassau lawmakers in a report. Even if nothing changes, Chalmers told legislators, Nassau still will remain ahead of the game.

In Suffolk, meanwhile, county Budget Director Eric Naughton last week told lawmakers that Suffolk’s sales tax revenues were coming in at a rate better-than-expected too.

But sales tax revenues — which are key to both county budgets —  aren’t the only indicators rising.

On the local home(selling) front, the market remains hot.

According to experts, for the first time in years, it’s a seller’s market largely because there aren’t enough properties to go around.

And because of the competition, overall, the value of homes in Nassau and Suffolk is rising too.

“Long Island has continued to experience near record-low inventory and high demand, resulting in a high share of bidding wars,” Jonathan J. Miller, president of Manhattan-based real estate appraisers and consultants Miller Samuel, said in a recent Newsday report.

In the first quarter of 2018, he said, local inventory (sans the Hamptons and North Fork) was the second-lowest first-quarter total in 14 years.

And as for rentals, Chalmers said, “They go very fast.”
According to a Sunday Newsday report, the demand for multi-family housing — which long has been anathema on Long Island —  is strong, with renters snatching up units almost as quickly as developers can build them.

And then there’s the region’s unemployment rate, which continues to drop.

Sometimes in summer, it rains.

And with that, it bears mentioning that both county budgets — even with the increase in sales tax receipts — remain challenged.

And that the region’s available housing crunch could be helped if more abandoned and so-called zombie houses were put back on the market — and the local tax rolls.

And that the glut of rental housing on Long Island leans heavily toward the high end, with far too few affordable units — which also are in demand.

And, finally, when it comes to jobs, the region needs more with salaries high enough to support families and keep young people on Long Island.

But there will be plentiful time to dwell on such issues,

For now, though, it’s summer and we live on an Island.

How incredibly cool is that?

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