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Hooper wants Freeport, Hempstead to get bigger share of sales tax -- again

Assemb. Earlene Hooper (D-Hempstead), the deputy speaker, speaks

Assemb. Earlene Hooper (D-Hempstead), the deputy speaker, speaks to Hempstead residents during a public forum on May 8, 2014. Credit: Danielle Finkelstein

ALBANY - It looks as if Nassau County and Assemb. Earlene Hooper are in for another tussle over sales tax revenue.

With authorization for the county's sales tax set to expire this year, Hooper (D-Hempstead) again wants to direct a share of the county revenue to the villages of Freeport and Hempstead. She has introduced a bill to renew the county's ability to collect sales taxes as it has for 30 years. But this time, Hooper inserted a clause into the final paragraph of her bill that says Hempstead village must receive $2.5 million and Freeport $2 million.

"The current distribution of sales tax revenues does not provide sufficient financial support to the villages within Nassau County," Hooper said in a memo accompanying the bill. "The largest villages within the county are especially in need of additional financial resources. By dedicating additional sales tax revenues to these villages, the bill provides needed financial resources to the localities while minimizing any financial harm to Nassau County."

The office of County Executive Edward Mangano did not immediately comment.

Nassau, like other counties in New York, depends on the State Legislature to renew its sales tax every two years. In recent years, Hooper has attempted to direct portions of Nassau's sales tax revenue or red-light camera revenue to the two villages in her district.

An attempt to earmark money for Freeport and Hempstead in 2011 eventually fell apart, which led in 2014 to Hooper initially blocking Mangano's proposal to revamp Nassau's system for paying commercial property tax refunds. After Hooper and the county worked out a deal to send more money to the villages, she allowed the Republican's plan to go through.

This year, the Republican-led state Senate also has introduced a bill to renew Nassau's sales taxes, but makes no changes to current distribution.

The State Legislature has to act on Nassau's request before it adjourns the 2015 session on June 17.

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