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Editorial: Vote to dissolve Sanitary District 2

Laura Mallay, the executive director of the organization

Laura Mallay, the executive director of the organization Residents for Efficient Special Districts, with a petition in front of Hempstead's Sanitary District No. 2. Credit: Kevin P Coughlin, 2011

Wednesday, the 55,000 business- and homeowners in the special taxing jurisdiction known as Sanitary District 2 can take the first step to shaving a few hundred dollars off their annual bills.

In Long Island's highest-profile effort yet under a new state law aimed at reducing multiple layers of government, voters can dissolve one created more than 80 years ago to provide trash pickups in Roosevelt, Baldwin, South Hempstead and a few adjoining areas.

Now, the district is a bloated patronage pit, benefiting the politically connected with top salaries, pension benefits and contracts. That's why supporters of eliminating it have had to battle every step of the way to even get the issue on the ballot.

Studies have shown that it costs twice as much to collect the trash in District 2 as it does in the Town of Hempstead, which widely provides the same services, quite well, to its residents.

Voter approval to dissolve Sanitary 2, however, doesn't automatically mean that the town would step in. The district must first hold public hearings and negotiate a plan with the town. While property owners are understandably worried about the welfare of sanitation workers they have come to know, that's a premature concern. The future of the workers -- and how much will be saved under town operations -- are issues to be addressed in those negotiations.

So voters will know much more when asked to approve the final plan in a second referendum. But they won't know anything if they don't open the door to this opportunity.