Mayors from six villages in the Town of North Hempstead have begun discussions on how they can save money -- together. The leaders of East Hills, Flower Hill, Old Westbury, Roslyn, Roslyn Estates and Roslyn Harbor met Thursday night with town and state officials to talk about sharing such expenses as paving roads and buying salt, fuel and computers. They agreed to meet again in January to start crafting a master plan with details and specifics.
We hope they're successful, and that their actions become contagious.
The initiative is a result of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's property tax reform plan. It offers homeowners rebate checks this fall on tax increases if the taxing jurisdiction stays within the tax cap. The rebates will continue if jurisdictions remain in cap compliance and come up with a plan in 2015 to reduce their tax levies by 1 percent a year for three years, beginning in 2016, by sharing services or consolidating. East Hills Mayor Michael Koblenz, the architect of the mayoral alliance, says his village's average taxpayer would see an rebate of about $30 in the first year.
The relatively small amount is a reminder of the potency of Cuomo's plan -- dangle a tax rebate, any rebate, and the public will want it. The rebate will grow if other levels of government, including school districts, adopt their own plans. Many already engage in some sort of joint operations. And Cuomo's plan is limited in that it does nothing to address such major cost drivers as pensions and health care.
But life here is expensive and Long Island is rapidly graying. Any bending of the spending curve, especially one that involves a return of cash, is welcome. Surviving on fixed incomes is going to become more of a problem, not less.