Local residents delivered petitions with more than 5,000 signatures to the Town of Hempstead Clerk Monday, calling for the dissolution of a local special tax sanitation district.
A dissolution is predicted to save residents of the sanitary district hundreds of dollars a year, according to a release from the Long Island Progressive Coalition (LIPC).
Residents for Efficient Special Districts (RESD) and the LIPC are assisting local residents to dissolve Sanitary District No. 2, which would turn over to the Town of Hempstead sanitation service for the hamlets of Baldwin, Roosevelt, South Hempstead and parts of Uniondale, Rockville Centre and Freeport.
If successful, this would not only be the first successful dissolution of a special district under New York’s new Government Reorganization and Citizen Empowerment Act, but also the largest effort ever undertaken under the new law, according to the LIPC.
"Residents of Sanitary District No. 2 have consistently paid nearly double the taxes of their neighbors who live in the Town of Hempstead collection areas, prompting the massive signature gathering effort," the LIPC said in a release.
A 2005 audit of Sanitary District No. 2 from former Nassau Comptroller Howard Weitzman found that residents were "grossly overpaying" for garbage collection compared to residents of other areas of Nassau.
The audit reads:
The comptroller, issuing an audit of the independent sanitary district, said that the district wastes millions of dollars every year on administrative expenses, including unnecessary and overpriced insurance sold to the district by a no-bid broker, cars and trucks for top staff, and gifts for employees, while allowing sanitation workers, in effect, to work part-time jobs for full-time pay.
"The only people benefitting from Sanitary District No. 2 are the handful of bureaucrats that run it" said Lisa Tyson, Director of the Long Island Progressive Coalition. "After dissolution, taxpayers stand to save hundreds of dollars a year, and workers stand to gain the higher quality of management that comes with increased public oversight. For the more than 30,000 residents of Sanitary District 2, this is a win-win."
After submitting the petitions, the town clerk has 10 days to certify. Once approved, the clerk will issue a notice of approval to hold a referendum which must be held 60 to 90 days after the notice. If the referendum passes, the next step is to have Sanitary District 2 create a plan to decide the logistics of dissolution and then residents will vote to approve that plan.