By a resounding margin, voters in Hempstead’s Sanitation District 2 rejected a grassroots effort to lower their property taxes by using a new law passed in 2009 to dissolve special taxing districts.
The election Wednesday brought more than 6,500 residents to the polls out of the estimated 40,000 people who were eligible; 4,775 were opposed to the dissolution referendum, and 1,740 were in favor.
Residents in the special district have been paying nearly double the taxes of their neighbors who receive garbage service from the Town of Hempstead.
“As we expected, the people came out and expressed overwhelmingly that they are very happy with the service they have,” said Doug Wiedmann, secretary to the board of commissioners in Sanitation District 2. “It was definitely a surprising turnout. It impressed the guys and we were happy. It wasn’t a close race.”
A grassroots effort spearheaded by the Long Island Progressive Coalition and Residents for Efficient Special Districts used the provisions of a 2009 law called the Government Reorganization and Citizen Empowerment Act to put the referendum before the voters of the district after circulating a petition earlier this year and collecting more than 5,000 signatures from the residents in the sanitation district.
In the end, despite getting endorsements from Republicans like former Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy, who heads the Center for Cost-Effective Government, and Democrats like Jay Jacobs, chairman of the Nassau Democratic Party, they fell far short of their goal.
“Rome wasn’t built in a day,” said Laura Mallay, the head of RESD. “We will continue to fight for fairness and to lower our property taxes.”