Although the amount is much smaller compared to the millions Nassau County pays to the MTA as part of the payroll “mobility” tax, Mineola is firmly of the mind that every little bit helps.
“It can be used in so many different ways in the village,” he said during a press conference at the Thursday afternoon in which numerous other local politicians chimed in regarding a judge’s decision that the .
“Although the MTA payroll tax that affects Mineola is minuscule to some of the other numbers... every little bit helps. We can certainly use that help,” Strauss said. “It’s not a windfall, we didn’t hit the Lotto, but we’ll take every penny we can because we’re watching every penny.”
The decision stems from a 2010 suit which argued that the tax which charged employers 34 cents for every $100 of payroll was unconstitutional based on the fact that it did not benefit the entire state and either did not pass both houses of the state legislature with a two-thirds majority vote or adhere to the “home rule” clause from the local municipalities.
“What this concept was was that it’s unconstitutional and I think that the way that I read the decision... was that... the two-thirds majority had to vote; they didn’t,” the mayor said. “So they didn’t follow their own rules. To me that makes it unconstitutional, so if you’re arguing on that principal, it doesn’t matter what the topic is, it’s the idea that all right, you have rules in place that yourself didn’t follow so we shouldn’t roll over when things aren’t done right. So let’s do it right. If they want to pass this and they get two-thirds vote, that’s all and then we have to eat it.”
Since the tax has been in effect, the Village of Mineola has paid about $70,000 to the MTA, or about $21,000 per year. The village budget contains lines to pay for the tax in each of the four major funds: library, pool, water and the general fund. The village pays a portion of its share of the tax weekly. By comparison, Nassau County has paid about $9.9 million since the tax’s inception.
“Whether weekly or monthly, I want it back,” Strauss said, “and I understand that one of the questions to Executive Mangano was ‘oh, the riders aren’t happy.’ OK, but the rider’s got a job. There’s people out there that I have to raise taxes on to pay for a tax for this that don’t have jobs. So what’s fair here?”
No positions have been cut from the village in order to help pay for the tax since Strauss has been mayor.
“In fact I’m trying to open up a few,” he said, adding in reference to the budget lines that “they’ve been in that budget line since I took it so I didn’t have to adjust anything, but it’s one thing I have to watch.”
Strauss believes that the money can be put to better use elsewhere in the village, especially with expenses such as a , to the at and the bids for the on Bruce Terrace and East Second Street looming.
“I’ll take that money,” Strauss said. “That’s money that I can use – I have some big issues coming up. $21,000 is not a salary, an employee’s salary but it’s something. Maybe I can fix a couple of park benches or maybe I can get some of these little things done. It’s a little bit extra money that I have to do with to give back to the taxpayers.”