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North Hempstead fields questions on sales tax, budget spending

North Hempstead has proposed a $133.3 million budget

North Hempstead has proposed a $133.3 million budget for 2019. Credit: Newsday / William Perlman

Council members and a resident questioned sales tax revenue projections and spending in the comptroller's office at a recent North Hempstead public hearing on the town's proposed budget.

Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth is proposing a $133.3 million budget for 2019 that is a 2.9 percent increase over the current spending plan. The proposed budget includes no service cuts or layoffs. The budget would allocate $68.6 million to the town's general fund, $37 million to the town outside village fund and $27.7 million for the town's 20 special districts. The proposed budget would increase the general fund tax levy by 2.16 percent and boost the outside of village fund by 3.18 percent. 

A Westbury resident wanted to know why spending is up in the comptroller's office.

"Your internal audit in 2017 cost $22,798 and, in 2016, it was $16,613," said Peter Gaffney during the hearing last Thursday. "For 2018 and 2019, it's $60,000. That just seems strange to me." 

Bosworth said town officials will get back to Gaffney with an answer to his question.

"Some of our best suggestions come from our residents, so thank you" and suggested he email his questions so the town can answer them in bulk, she said.   

Gaffney said he has a long list of other questions, but told council members that he didn't want to monopolize their budget meeting.

Councilwoman Anna Kaplan asked budget officials why they projected more income in sales tax revenue from Nassau County. The proposed budget shows sales tax revenue jumping to $12.1 million compared with $11.5 in the current budget. 

Jessica Lamendola, the town's acting comptroller, said her team based the projection off sales tax payments the county has sent to North Hempstead so far this year. In the first two installments, the payments have been about 4.65 percent higher than the payments in 2017, she said. 

"So with our projection, we're trying to remain firmly conservative but also wanting to reflect the revenue we expect," Lamendola said. "We're assuming a three-and-a-half percent growth in 2018 over 2017. On top of that, we're assuming a two percent growth of that number for 2019." 

Kaplan also asked Lamendola when exactly the town receives its sales tax payments. Lamendola said typically in July, September, November and the end of December. 

Town officials said the proposed budget stays below the state-mandated tax cap of 2 percent. 

The town will host another budget meeting at 7 p.m. Oct. 25 at Town Hall. The town plans to vote on the budget Nov. 1. 


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