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North Hempstead supervisor vows vote on budget before election

North Hempstead Town Hall in Manhasset on March

North Hempstead Town Hall in Manhasset on March 5, 2012. Credit: Nicole Bartoline

North Hempstead Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth has vowed to hold a vote on the town's budget before Election Day -- for the first time since 1989, officials said -- after Republicans and local residents criticized the process last year.

"My administration is committed to open and transparent government," Bosworth, a Democrat who took office Jan. 1, said in an interview Wednesday. "It's only right that voters understand what our philosophy is before they come to vote for us; to me, the budget really represents the philosophy of the administration in a written document."

The budget is expected to be heard at the town's board meeting on Oct. 21 and at a special meeting on Oct. 29, when a vote is expected.

The council's two Republicans -- Dina De Giorgio and Angelo Ferrara -- urged the board last year to vote on the budget before the Nov. 5 election, saying lawmakers should be held accountable at the polls for budgets they authorize. John Riordan, then interim supervisor, said the issue was a "red herring," and "that's the way we've always done it." The board voted down the proposal to hold a budget meeting earlier, and it was held Nov. 7.

State law requires nearly all towns to submit a draft budget on or before Sept. 30. Town boards must vote on them by Nov. 20.

De Giorgio lost a challenge to Bosworth, then a Nassau County legislator, for the supervisor's post. Three council races were contested, as was the position of town clerk.

The 2nd Council District seat is the only one facing an election this November. Democrat Peter Zuckerman, appointed by the town board in January, faces Republican Bonnie L.S. Parente.

De Giorgio thanked Bosworth at Tuesday's town board meeting, saying moving the vote up "was a big issue" last year.

Blair Horner, legislative director for New York Public Interest Research Group, said "the kick-the-can philosophy is hard-wired into the DNA of elected officials. What makes this surprising is their willingness to show their hands to voters in advance of an election, and that takes political courage."

But he added: "The true test will be if they chose to do it every year," which Bosworth said she is "committed" to do "before the election . . . next year, and for any year I'm there."

Correction: North Hempstead last approved its budget before Election Day in 1989. An earlier version of this story misstated the year.

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