Hempstead Town Supervisor Anthony J. Santino punctuated his first 20-1/2 months as the Chief Executive of America’s largest township by delivering a powerful State of the Town address, which detailed an impressive record of cutting municipal costs, restoring the highest degree of fiscal accountability and maintaining the fine quality services that the municipality’s residents have come to expect. The Supervisor also indicated that he will continue his fiscally conservative practices by proposing a 2018 budget that will constitute a cut compared to the 2017 spending plan. Santino noted that his 2018 budget will comprise the third consecutive year of budget cuts under his leadership. He also highlighted independent credit rating outlook upgrades and outlined enhanced quality-of-life services under his management.
“Hempstead Town families work hard and have to live within a budget when they manage their households,” stated Santino. “Homeowners deserve at least one level of government that shares their commitment to fiscal responsibility. That’s why I have worked hard to cut costs in Hempstead Town, insisting that our budgets are sound and sensible while demonstrating the highest regard for taxpayers. In fact, I will present a budget cut in 2018, compared to the 2017 spending plan. This follows on the heels of my 2017 budget cut, as well as the dramatic cost-cutting measures I implemented in the 2016 budget that I inherited upon becoming Supervisor.”
Making History, Cutting Budgets
Upon taking office in January of 2016, the Supervisor aggressively took on the issues of cost control and budgetary accountability. He pored over the 2016 budget, which he inherited as the town’s chief executive, dramatically slashing budgeted amounts. As a result, he converted a $23 million deficit into a $5 million operational surplus. Following up on this remarkable turnaround, Santino proposed a $422.3 million budget for 2017 that axed spending by more than $13 million compared to the 2016 spending plan. What’s more, the Supervisor’s 2017 historic budget constituted the township’s first balanced budget in over 25 years. Looking ahead, Santino committed to cutting the 2018 budget in comparison to the 2017 financial document.
Reducing the Cost of Government
One of the hallmarks of Santino’s administration has been reducing the cost of government. In fact, one of the Supervisor’s first initiatives upon taking office in 2016 was to cut discretionary spending by 20 percent. Following up on this initiative, Santino trimmed discretionary spending in his 2017 budget by an additional $3.9 million.
Payroll has been an area of significant cost reduction in the Supervisor’s agenda. He is currently slashing $14 million in salary costs in the 2017 budget compared to the 2016 budget. The 2017 budget evidences a 3.3 percent or 66 person reduction in the staffing levels of just 4 years ago (2014). Further, by limiting the number of hours that part-time employees could work, the Santino administration saved $5.5 million last year.
In particular, Santino has dubbed overtime costs “public enemy number one.” In 2015, prior to Santino becoming Supervisor, the town’s overtime costs totaled $5.5 million. At the end of 2017, total overtime costs will be constrained at $3 million, an astounding 46 percent reduction.
“Our government has been strongly committed to cutting all costs under its discretion,” stated Santino. “Slashing payroll costs, reducing the size of the workforce and cutting overtime costs simultaneously is an important statement on my priorities as Supervisor. In short, I am putting the taxpayers first.”
Innovative Ideas Save Money/Cut Costs
Santino’s administration is constantly striving to identify new ways to reduce expenditures and cut costs. In a startling cost-cutting example, Santino slashed the number of town auto service facilities by 88 percent, saving $1 million annually. Another innovative move witnessed the town’s sale of broken, obsolete and useless equipment on the online auction block, garnering over a quarter of a million dollars in funds for the town in a few short months. Hempstead has also begun to purchase “gently used” trucks and heavy equipment, providing up to $1.3 million in potential savings on an annual basis.
Major Projects, Major Savings
The Supervisor also outlined some major projects that have reduced costs and/or provided savings to taxpayers.
- U.S. Army Corps Coastal Protection Project: $230 million effort originally called for 10% of cost to be borne by town. Santino lobbied federal officials to assume entire cost, saving the town approximately $25 million.
- L.E.D. (light emitting diode) Street Lamp Replacement Program: upgraded 50,000 street lamps to high-efficiency fixtures, saving $2 million annually. A town office interior lighting and local parks lighting upgrade effort will provide $500,000 in annual savings.
- Hempstead Town assumed management of its Lido Golf Club from private sector operators this year. The management change will result in the town receiving $302,000 more in annual net revenues.
Improving the Quality of Life
The Supervisor listed a host of quality-of-life initiatives that are benefitting residents. Recently, the town placed sunscreen dispensers at town parks and pools, thanks to the generous sponsorship of South Nassau Communities Hospital. One of 50 new AEDs saved a heart attack victim at a town park. The AEDs were funded by Mercy Medical Center and St. Francis Hospital. An express permit window at the town’s building department is making it possible to get many common permits within three days. Finally, the town unveiled a stunning 9-11 Memorial Park this year at a beachside setting at Town Park Point Lookout. Over 1,000 guests paid respects to those who were killed on 9-11 at a 16th anniversary ceremony.
Ready for a Lean and Taxpayer-friendly 2018 Budget
Santino reiterated his commitment to cut spending for the third consecutive year in his 2018 budget. He noted that a recently negotiated labor agreement, which constrains cost of living salary adjustments below the rate of inflation, is incorporated in his lean and taxpayer-friendly 2018 budget.
“By controlling costs, consolidating operations and holding managers strictly accountable, we can ‘do more with less’,” said Santino. “I will continue to work hard to provide residents with the best services at the lowest possible cost.”