The race for Town of Hempstead supervisor pits two 51-year-olds — one a longtime politico and attorney, the other a former electrical engineer turned computer programmer — against each other in a race that centers on two key issues — the town budget and the environment.
The current supervisor, Kate Murray, of Levittown, faces a challenge by self-described open-government advocate Felix Procacci, of Franklin Square. Murray, who served as town clerk for a year and as a state assemblywoman for three years before winning the two-year supervisor’s post five times, is backed by the Nassau County Republican Party.
Procacci is a registered Republican running on the Democratic line. The Nassau County Democratic Party, he said, approached him to run for supervisor because of his outspoken calls for greater town efficiency and transparency and, at times, his blistering attacks on the Murray administration. Procacci said he has not received financial support from the Democratic Party and is financing his grassroots campaign with $22,000 of his own money. Procacci noted that he has attended every Town Board meeting for the past three years.
The budget and taxes
Calling herself Hempstead’s “chief financial officer,” Murray said she has presided over consistently balanced budgets that do not depend on long-term debt to finance expenditures — the town borrows $40 million to $50 million a year, but quickly repays it. She added that the town has reduced property taxes while maintaining services.
The key to budgeting, Murray said, is “maintaining a lean and efficient workforce.” Between 2004 and 2014, she said, the town will have cut its workforce by 2.5 percent through attrition, saving the town $5 million annually in a nearly $420 million budget.
“Right-sizing” town government, she said, is the best way to balance the budget at a time when the town’s mortgage-recording tax revenues have declined since the economy collapsed from 2007 to 2009. During the real-estate boom in 2005, when home sales soared, the town collected $45 million in mortgage-recording taxes. Last year the town collected $13 million.
“With declines like that,” Murray said, “obviously that presents budget challenges.”