Murray said the town has also pursued federal and state grants to add renewable-energy sources to its power generation mix, decreasing its dependence on oil and natural gas and saving money. And Hempstead is rolling out a computer system to monitor its vehicles’ fuel efficiency, which will save the town $1 million annually, the supervisor said.
Noting that the town enjoys an AAA bond rating, Murray said, “There are signs that the economy is creeping back, and it will continue to be my biggest challenge — to keep our record of very, very stable finances. If you take your eye off the budget for a day, you’re going to be in trouble.”
Procacci has charted Hempstead’s tax levy — the total amount it needs in taxes to meet expenses — for the past decade, and while he said it’s true that the levy has gone down in recent years, it has not always done so. The levy has risen, Procacci said, from $182.5 million in 2003 to a little under $264.5 million this year. He noted that property taxes have decreased in the years before Murray runs for office. Between 2009 and 2010, the tax levy dropped by nearly $900,000 and by a half-million dollars from 2011 to 2012.
Procacci said that he has often attempted to raise budget concerns at Town Board meetings, but has been shut down when he has. “When I bring up the budget numbers,” he said, “I [have been] relegated to three minutes.”
The Town Board “knew [I] was going to be controversial,” he said. “I tell the truth. All of my information is documented.”
The candidate said he sees inefficiencies in town operations. In particular, he said, town crews are sent to his neighborhood at times to clean up tree branches, and he sees workers standing around because the crews are larger than needed.
Procacci said the town should videotape its public meetings and post them on the Internet and show them on public-access channels to enable the public to see the Town Board at work. He noted that town meetings are held during the day, when people are at work. He said he can attend meetings because he works part-time.