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Brightwaters trustee questions tax policy

As areas across Long Island grapple with increasingly high taxes, a Brightwaters trustee questions whether the village's 12-year record of flat taxes has been damaging in the long-term.

"By not raising taxes, instead of being proactive and looking into the future and having long- and short-term plans to expand, we are reacting to existing conditions," said John Valdini. He is the lone trustee from the Common Good Party on the village's four-member board.

Mayor Joseph McNulty, of the Citizens Party, agrees that the village infrastructure needs work but contends that repairs must be done gradually and within budget to keep taxes down and the village debt-free. The $2.7 million budget was adopted this month, he said.

"My concern is trying to live within our means," McNulty said. "If you don't raise the taxes, you can't have everything perfect."

Valdini sees the dozen years of flat taxes as postponing critical projects and failing to keep the village well maintained. Several village roads need paving, and the downtown needs new lights and public parking, he said.

"By putting things off to help out the people today, it's pushing the bill down to people tomorrow," he said.

Other trustees could not be reached.

McNulty said the village's 26 miles of road are being paved over time: five to six miles in 2009, four miles last year, and two to three miles this year. "I could do all of the roads. I would have to borrow to do that," McNulty said. "Once you start borrowing, you have to raise taxes and that's a slippery road."

Valdini disagrees. "If we tell people we have to raise taxes by, say, 2 percent, but all that money is going to pave roads, I don't think people will mind as much," he said.

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