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Hewlett Harbor Rejects Override of Tax Cap

Mayor argued that override would create a poor perception of the village.

The board of trustees shot down a law that overrides the state’s tax cap, with its mayor arguing that he doesn’t want a perception of the village not being able to live within its means.

“For me, the only downside is the crafted perception of the burden being put on the villages. Villages doing this are being damned by their constituents,” Mayor Mark Weiss said at Thursday’s meeting. “I believe going to the public and saying we want the option ruins the perception we worked so hard to create.”

The board to consider an override of the 2 percent tax cap imposed on all municipalities, citing a possible future need to raise funds for emergencies. The mayor argued that he’d rather seek the public’s approval for additional funds when an emergency occurs, rather than overriding the cap. Three trustees agreed.

Michael Yohai, the lone dissenter, argued the cap should be superseded because he rejects the notion that the state could regulate the village, which he called a “shining beacon of conservatism.” He said he doesn’t want to be “hamstrung” should an emergency occur, and cited the village’s introduction of a security force five years ago after a string of burglaries.

“We were fortunate to have a surplus, and we might not be in that situation again,” he said. “I don’t want to eat into the cushion.”

But the mayor argued that the village had enough in its coffers to support the program for two years without raising taxes.

Three Five Towns villages — Hewlett Neck, Hewlett Bay Park and Woodsburgh — have approved an override of the cap.

Other items of discussion:

  • The board passed five laws, with the first establishing a code of ethics for village officials and employees. The four others dealt with the Hewlett Harbor’s building code and the introduction of new fees.
  • A budget for the 2012-13 fiscal year was passed.
  • Village elections are set for June. Weiss, along with Trustees Tom Cohen and Kenneth Kornblau, are up for reelection.

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