Interim Town of North Hempstead Supervisor John Riordan is wasting no time asserting his recently-appointed North Hempstead town board authority into the ongoing budget process.
Riordan, appointed Oct. 1 to fill the vacancy left by Jon Kaiman's resignation, led unanimous Democratic opposition rejecting a Republican call for change to the status quo regarding the budget vote which normally comes after Election Day.
Pulling out a seldom-used gavel while calling for one town board member to speak at a time, Riordan, pushed back against a proposal by GOP Councilwoman Dina DeGiorgio requesting that this year's budget hearing be moved up to Oct. 30 — nearly a week before election.
In answering questions from a resident regarding the budget process, Riordan, a former judge and North Hempstead town attorney, said the town meets legal obligations set forth by the state.
DeGiorgio said for the last two years the town has started off with a budget that is within the tax cap, before adopting a budget that has gone up after Election Day between six to eight percent above the tax cap.
"What do you think would be accomplished by having it before the election?" said Riordan. "This issue of before Election Day or after Election Day is actually, I would say, a red herring."
Budget hearings may take place by the Thursday following Election Day and the town has until Nov. 20 to legally adopt the budget, according to Riordan.
"I'm of the opinion that if the state Legislature wanted it before the date of election, they would have provided that," said Riordan. "They did not."
"We can vote on the budget before election day," said DeGiorgio, a candidate for the town supervisor position.
"I don't think a lot of people know that there is an option," said Republican Councilman Angelo Ferrrara, also up for reelection. "There are many other towns that vote on the budget before election day."
Voting 5-2 along party lines, the town board voted against moving the budget hearing up.
A petition from members of the communities of Westbury, Carle Place and Mineola asking for the town board to vote on the budget before Election Day was submitted to the board by Town Clerk Leslie Gross.
Joining Riordan, Democrats argued against changing the budget process of the past 15 years which they say works.
"I don't see any reason for doing that two weeks early," said Councilwoman Anna Kaplan of Great Neck.