Hempstead Supervisor Gillen calls last-minute budget vote 'political theater'

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A budget proposed by the Republican-controlled Town Board less than 24 hours before Election Day was approved.

The plan to slash taxes by 3.8% came weeks after the same group of town lawmakers proposed a 3.5% tax cut, doubling the one proposed by Democratic Town Supervisor Laura Gillen.

The latest plan includes slashing the budget of the town board majority by $281,000 -- cutting the supervisor's office budget by $265,000, and decreasing the budget in the town's Receiver of Taxes and Clerk's Office by $100,000 each.

Gillen says presenting the proposal one day before the election was a political ploy.

"It's all political theater to tie me up the night before the election and it's really childish, actually," she said.

Councilman Anthony D'Esposito says that's not true. The Island Park Republican says the board majority was forced to wait on unveiling its proposal until it received assurances from County Executive Laura Curran that millions of dollars in state aid would flow through the county and to the town.

Curran made that announcement on Halloween, and the latest GOP tax cut plan only came out Monday. Newsday Columnist Joye Brown says there's no getting around the timing of all of this.

"They're waiting just before an election to say the big news coming out of here is there's a tax cut, so of course it's political," said Brown.

Gillen jested that the Republican's budget plan came from her own previous proposal. "I'm proud to have presented a budget that cut taxes for residents and I'm delighted that the town council has decided to follow my lead on that," she says.

Hempstead Councilman Dennis Dunne says that wasn't the case. "Absent leadership from the top person on this board…we still came with a giant tax cut. To me, 4% is giant. Shame on someone for trying to take credit for what someone else did."

The Town Board postponed a budget vote on two separate occasions before Monday's vote.

Newsday's Joye Brown brings insight into Long Island's races

 

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