WESTBURY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A property tax cap is forcing Nassau and Suffolk counties on Long Island to find other sources of revenue for 2018.
As CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan reported Tuesday, many taxpayers complain that their county executives are trying tricks to balance budgets involving fees.
Taxpayers trying for real estate transactions could not believe their eyes. Verification and map fees are going up another $100 to $455.
Those are among a litany of proposed fee increases — $60 million worth – in the budget of lame duck Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano.
“I’m looking for accountability, that’s really what I want,” one woman said.
Mangano was allowed to run again, but is not doing so. He was dropped from Republican Party endorsements after his arrest on federal corruption charges, and will leave behind a budget that both of his would-be successors are deeply critical of.
“These fees are exorbitant, and certainly when you compare them to what other municipalities charge for the same thing, it really does raise a red flag,” said Republican Nassau county executive candidate Jack Martins.
“When the county is turning around trying to raise fees, people are wondering, where is my money going?” said Democratic candidate Laura Curran. “Is it going towards patronage jobs? Is it going to those bloated contracts?”
There are also complaints of a back-door tax gimmick – raising the $55 surcharge on traffic and parking violations. Mangano wants another $35 million from the ticket fees.
“Can’t afford it – I’m living on a fixed income,” one woman said.
Homeowners say they worry it is a shell game, and demand more “honesty and transparency,” as one woman put it.
The county legislature must adopt the final budget a week before election day.
When asked about the prospect of a mid-year budget, Curran said, “I think we need take a look at the timing — see when it makes the most sense and see when it best serves the taxpayers.”
Martins said: “Certainly, I would appreciate the opportunity to craft the budget. We have done this successfully in the past — restructuring budgets; making sure we live within our means.”
Meanwhile, some hikes have already been approved. Increased fees to Nassau County golf courses and beaches go into effect the first of the year.
Both Nassau and Suffolk counties said the good news is that sales tax revenues are increasing – and claim cost control and staff cuts have trimmed expenditures.