On Heels of Two Credit Rating Upgrades for Town of Hempstead, Town Board Approves Tax-Cut Budget That Preserves Programs, While Enhancing Facilities and Infrastructure
Supervisor Don Clavin and the Hempstead Town Board unanimously adopted the 2022 Town of Hempstead budget, a spending plan that cuts taxes, preserves all town programs and services and includes enhancements to town parks and infrastructure. Supervisor Clavin’s tax-cut budget comes on the heels of two credit rating upgrades in the span of ten months for the Town of Hempstead, demonstrating his commitment to taxpayers in the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic that has created economic challenges for governments across the nation.
“A year after working with a bipartisan town board to freeze town taxes in 2021, I am proud to present a town budget for 2022 that slashes taxes, while preserving programs and services for residents during a time where they need it the most,” Clavin said. “In the midst of a global pandemic, we’re providing tax relief, delivering top-notch services and enhancing the quality of life for residents of America’s largest township.”
The Supervisor’s budget slashes 9.22 percent, from the town’s General fund. This reduces the total town tax levy – the amount borne by property taxes – from $253.1 million in 2021 to $250.6 million in 2022. In addition to the $250.6 million in property taxes to be levied under this budget, non-property tax revenues include $30 million in mortgage recording revenues, $3.8 million in per capita state aid, $15.8 million in refuse disposal revenues and $44.6 million in sales tax revenues. Unavoidable expenses such as health insurances and pensions, amount to 18 percent of the town’s expense budget.
While town services and programs remain intact, Clavin has also worked with the Hempstead Town Board to invest millions of dollars in capital projects, including $10 million for parks improvements and nearly $75 million for roads. Improvements are underway at various community parks, including playground and field upgrades. Some of the townwide projects include the repurposing of the Sands facility in Lido Beach into a year-round activity center for senior citizens, enhancements to the town’s Merrick and Lido Golf Courses and a playground upgrade for Camp ANCHOR, which serves children and adults with special needs.
“The Town of Hempstead continued to provide essential programs and services throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and we have done so at the lowest possible cost,” said Senior Councilwoman Dorothy Goosby. Added Councilman Bruce Blakeman, “Cutting taxes in the midst of a global pandemic that has endured for a year and a half is no small accomplishment. I am proud to join with my colleagues on the Hempstead Town Board and vote in favor of this 2022 spending plan.”
“The Town of Hempstead is investing millions of dollars in community parks, road improvements and other municipal projects while at the same time implementing a tax cut in the 2022 town budget,” said Councilman Anthony D’Esposito. Added Councilman Dennis Dunne, Sr., “From providing COVID-19 vaccinations to adding new parks programs and municipal services, the Town of Hempstead is doing more than ever before while also providing tax relief.”
“Under the leadership of Supervisor Don Clavin, the Town of Hempstead has cut taxes, earned two credit rating upgrades and continues to proactively respond to the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Councilman Tom Muscarella. Added Councilman Chris Carini, “During these uncertain times, residents need all the help they can get – I fully support the Supervisor’s tax-cut budget that continues to fund all of our town’s essential programs and services while still reducing the burden on our taxpayers.”
The town’s commitment to fiscally conservative budgeting practices was recently recognized in the form of two credit rating upgrades, courtesy of two highly respected Wall Street credit rating agencies. Last December, Moody’s Investors Service boosted the town’s rating from Aa2 to Aa1, while Standard and Poor’s recently upgraded the town from AA- to AA. These are both among the highest credit ratings issued by the two agencies. The synopsis of the Moody’s reviewers noted that the “financial management [of the Town] is strong…” and that “financial operations are likely to remain sound given conservative budgeting and active management.” Standard & Poor’s lauded the town’s “conservative budgeting and concerted cost-saving measures implemented,” in addition to “strong management” and “strong budgetary performance.”
In the midst of the heights of the pandemic in 2020, while other governments were resorting to tax hikes and service cuts, Clavin and a bipartisan Town Board managed to freeze taxes and maintain all essential services in the 2021 budget. What’s more, Clavin and the Council Members worked to allocate millions of dollars in federal CARES funding to provide direct relief to residents during the pandemic – efforts included providing millions of meals to those in need, thousands of free COVID-19 tests and vaccines to residents, aid to front-line entities such as hospitals, fire departments, colleges and universities, villages and schools, and thousands of free PPE kits to small businesses.
Those pandemic relief efforts continued in 2021, as a federal CARES fund grant was allocated by Clavin and Council Members toward the establishment of New York State’s first mobile vaccination unit in collaboration with Mount Sinai South Nassau. The “Vaxmobile” resulted in the administering of over 7,000 free COVID-19 vaccines to date, bringing this important service to communities across the Town of Hempstead to help reach all residents, with a particular focus on the hardest-hit communities. In addition, the Town of Hempstead established a homebound COVID-19 vaccination program, led by the Hempstead Town EMS Squad, which provides free vaccines to those who are unable leave their homes.
“There is no way to predict how long the pandemic will last,” Clavin said. “But I want residents to know that the Town of Hempstead has been there for them from the beginning and will continue to seek ways to provide pandemic-related relief, assistance and services.”
As America’s largest township with over 790,000 residents – a population larger than the state of Vermont and the city of Boston and despite providing the lion’s share of local services – excepting public education and police protection – the Town of Hempstead comprises just about 8 cents of every property tax dollar borne by residents (less than one cent of every dollar for homeowners living in incorporated villages).
An extensive list of recreational and entertainment programs, one-stop passport processing center, birth and death certificates and marriage licenses through the office of Town Clerk Kate Murray, hundreds of parks, three nature preserves, over two dozen swimming pools, beautiful beaches, two golf courses, world-class marinas, senior citizens’ services, golden age housing, a renowned program for children with mental and physical challenges, sanitation collection and water service are just a brief synopsis of services offered by the Town of Hempstead.
“I am committed to making our municipal government work more leanly without compromising the high quality of services Town of Hempstead residents have come to expect from America’s largest township,” Clavin said. “As we all contend with the COVID-19 pandemic, the Town of Hempstead is here to provide tax relief, essential services, enriching programs, recreation and athletic options and enhanced facilities and infrastructure.”