Presenting his first budget proposal as Hempstead Town Supervisor, Anthony J. Santino made a strong and fiscally responsible statement, slashing the town’s budget by $13 million compared to the 2016 financial document. The town’s top administrator is cutting salary costs by $19 million in the spending plan, reducing the size of the municipal workforce and continuing a 20% cut in discretionary spending that he initiated earlier this year. Perhaps most impressive, Santino’s proposed budget is the town’s first structurally balanced financial blueprint in approximately three decades, under which recurring annual revenues are equal to expenses. The Hempstead Town Board adopted the Supervisor’s budget at an October 13th hearing.
“Just as taxpayers work hard to live within a budget, Hempstead Town government is reducing its budget in 2017, controlling costs and ‘doing more with less’,” stated Santino. “By slashing the budget by over 3 percent, shrinking the workforce and reducing spending, our town is demonstrating the highest level of respect for taxpayers.”
Where Your Tax Dollars Go
The Supervisor stated that Hempstead Town offers the best value of any government to local taxpayers when measuring the array of services presented by the town against the cost of providing municipal programs and services. He observed that the town provides the lion’s share of local services, excepting public education and police protection while comprising only 9¢ of every tax dollar for the town’s homeowners (those who live in incorporated villages pay just over 2¢ of their tax dollar to the township). The following chart details the allocation of residents’ property tax dollar:
Among the programs, services and facilities under the town’s jurisdiction are several beaches, pools, parks, two golf courses, four public marinas, nature preserves, a colonial-era museum, a camp for children with special needs, a senior enrichment department that services 190,000 mature residents, a water department, a highway department that maintains 1,200 miles of roadway, a sanitation department, a bay constables division, public safety offices, a bustling building department that has waived $5 million in building permit fees for Hurricane Sandy victims and a Town Clerk’s Office which handles a host of licensing duties and maintains public records.
Slashing Spending, Reducing the Workforce
And “Lighting Up” Savings for Taxpayers
“Taxpayers have to live within a budget, carefully trimming spending and looking for new ways to save money,” said Santino as he discussed his spending plan that aggressively constrains government spending and controls costs. “Homeowners deserve at least one level of government that shares their dedication to fiscal responsibility.”
The Supervisor took on the issue of controlling spending immediately upon taking office, cutting discretionary spending by $9 million or 20% in the 2016 budget. Continuing the dedication to controlling spending, Santino’s 2017 budget includes a $19.1 million reduction in salary costs compared to the 2016 spending plan. A 2016 retirement incentive that has been put in place by the Supervisor is projected to offer avoided salary costs of between $6 million and $9 million in 2017.
The town administration’s personnel cost reduction plan provides for 1,942 full-time employees in 2017, a 1.8% or 36 person reduction over the 2016 budgeted personnel count. The following chart evidences the town’s “rightsizing” of the municipal workforce over the last four years:
Another key component in the Supervisor’s plan to trim personnel costs rests in limiting the hours that part-time employees may work to 25 hours per week. This initiative will produce $5.5 million in savings in 2016.
While reducing the size of the workforce, Santino is also mindful of controlling the town’s overtime costs. By implementing work shifts and aggressive departmental oversight, the town is already realizing impressive results. The town projects that its overtime costs in 2016 will be 35% below the budgeted amount. This is in stark contrast to results in 2014 and 2015, which witnessed actual costs outpacing budgeted figures. The following chart details the impressive turnaround:
One of the cost-saving initiatives that the Santino administration is undertaking is the conversion of 50,000 conventional streetlamps in Hempstead Town to high-efficiency L.E.D. fixtures. The project has been massive and has featured an impressive public-private partnership. Town workers and private sector contractors are working side-by-side, replacing street lighting elements with L.E.D. units that offer better quality light, longer lasting fixtures, and reduced operational costs. The initiative will save taxpayers over $2 million in 2016 and offer total net savings of $43.1 million over a 20-year period.
The Bottom Line
Slashing the Budget, Reducing Spending,
Achieving Structural Balance
The Supervisor’s 2017 budget slashes $13.4 million from the 2016 amount, resulting in a lean $422.3 million budget for 2017. This 3.2% reduction is emblematic of the administration’s respect for the township’s taxpayers and Santino’s focus on controlling the cost of municipal government.
“This budget will go beyond showing high regard for taxpayers, justifying the confidence of Wall Street credit rating agencies,” said the Supervisor. “In specific, this plan is structurally balanced, including recurring annual revenues sufficient to satisfy budgeted expenses. What’s more, there is no reliance on “one-shot” revenues or fiscal gimmicks to achieve budgetary balance.”
Building a Better Town Together
The Santino administration has accomplished a lot in 2016, and the Supervisor has an aggressive agenda for enhancing the local quality of life while being fiscally responsible in 2017. Some of his priorities include:
· A Permanent 9-11 Memorial– Santino has recently announced that the township will build a permanent 9-11 memorial as a means to preserve the memory of the heroes of September 11th.
· Dog Park at Newbridge Road Park– Hempstead Town is a dog-friendly town, and it has just opened the municipality’s first dog park at Newbridge Road Park.
· Housing Opportunities– Hempstead Town approved the first train commuter-friendly housing zone on Long Island next to the West Hempstead train station several years ago. Today, our second transit-oriented project is being built in Island Park, creating more rental housing for young people who work in Manhattan and Brooklyn. The Supervisor is dedicated to keeping young people in America’s largest township.
· Expanding L.E.D. Lighting Conversion– Building upon the success of the town’s conversion of 50,000 streetlamps from older technology to energy efficient L.E.D. units, Hempstead is poised to embark on an indoor L.E.D. lighting conversion program that will save taxpayers significant money and energy.
· More Progressive Development– Hempstead Town will build upon its progressive development agenda. The town is seeing the start of a Renaissance at Nassau’s HUB, we’ve re-crafted the former Avis property into a vibrant retail center along Old Country Road, and we are seeking opportunities for dynamic mixed-use construction in our township.
· More Multi-Lingual Services– The township’s government offices are becoming increasingly accessible, offering multi-lingual services to serve our diverse constituency. The town is in the process of expanding services and the number of languages that we can accommodate.
· Come Visit HempsteadWorks– The town’s one-stop career center is the place for job and career opportunities. The center is working with veterans and young people, seeking to serve more residents in the coming year than ever before.
Responsible & Accountable
“This 2017 budget is a responsible budget that slashes spending and controls costs while maintaining valuable programs,” said Santino. “I am holding our township accountable to taxpayers, producing a transparent budget that is structurally balanced.”