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Suozzi proposes property tax hike

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The county executive's proposed budget was presented to the county Legislature on September 15, beginning the process of finalizing it. The budget must be approved by the end of October.

A 3.9 percent increase in property taxes would mean about $58 more per year more for the average homeowner, a county official said. The increase would shrink the expected $100 million budget gap by about $30 million, while the remaining $70 million would be targeted for cost-cutting and consolidation measures in county government, the official added.

"What we are facing here is approximately a 100-million-dollar problem in Nassau County due to the current economic conditions," said Tom Stokes, deputy county executive for management, budget and finance. "We are not immune to these factors."

A property tax hike would be the county's first increase in five years.

Stokes noted that the county's portion of the average homeowner's property tax bill of $8,700 is about 17.5 percent, a decrease from more than 22 percent when Suozzi first entered office. School district taxes account for more than 60 percent of the typical tax bill.

According to Stokes, the county could have generated $45 million by implementing a home heating fuel tax, as have nearby counties like Suffolk and Westchester, but Suozzi rejected the idea as too burdensome for homeowners who face doubling fuel prices this winter.

The Legislature must vote on the budget by Oct. 30. There will be a series of budget hearings leading up to the vote, including opportunities for the public to comment at times and dates to be announced.

Comments about this story? MCaputo@ liherald.com or (516) 569-4000 ext. 287.