Looking forward in the new year

Politicians discuss their 2014 agendas


With 2014 well underway, many have stopped looking back to last year and started planning for what to do with the remainder of this one.

For politicians representing Rockville Centre, that means planning what they hope to achieve for their constituents in the coming months.

“Our downtown business district is key to our village’s future,” said Rockville Centre Mayor Francis Murray. “Rockville Centre enjoys a thriving downtown, with new businesses coming in every week. We have an occupancy rate in our downtown area of more than 95 percent and more shops and restaurant are coming. By the end of 2014, I hope to say that number has risen to 100 percent occupancy.”

Murray had a varied list of things he’d like to see accomplished this year, everything from beautification to infrastructure improvement.

He said that he wanted to keep beautifying the village’s downtown and was planning to add plantings and new lighting, and to improve the appearance of sidewalks and street signs.

“In the past, the village improved one mile of roadway per year,” Murray said. “However, with the help of our Department of Public Works, we will be improving approximately three to four miles in 2014.” Murray also said that while work had slowed on Maple Avenue due to state funding, the project would continue and hopefully conclude this year.

On the public safety front, Murray said that the Rockville Centre Police Department is looking to add more officers. And the fire department will be adding two new trucks this year, as well as one next year and one in 2016.

Murray also said he’s looking to continue his administration’s success in securing grants to improve the village. “We have been aggressive in going after major grants and gifts to benefit the village,” he said. “In the last two years alone, we have secured over $5 million dollars in federal, state and local grants and gifts to make improvements in our village.”

At the state level, Senate Co-Majority Leader Dean Skelos, who both represents and lives in Rockville Centre, had his own goals that he would like to see accomplished in the new year.

High up on the list was tax relief for families and businesses. “We should start by making it more affordable to live here by making the property tax cap and middle-class tax cuts we passed permanent,” Skelos said in his response to Gov. Cuomo’s State of the State Address. “Next, we should completely eliminate the energy tax imposed by Democrats that’s costing taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars a year. And, let’s make our economic progress lasting by enacting a permanent spending cap to ensure state spending never grows faster than we can afford.”

Skelos went on to say that he wants to eliminate corporate taxes for manufacturers and pass comprehensive regulatory relief.

He also wants to pass the fourth consecutive on-time budget, as well as pass legislation that will help small businesses run by disabled veterans have a better chance at winning state contracts.

“At this moment, there are thousands of good-paying jobs across New York

that employers can’t fill,” Skelos said. “Let’s provide retraining programs for unemployed and underemployed workers, and connect them with businesses looking for work. It’s commonsense. Give people the skills they need, for jobs that already exist, and match them up with companies that grow in New York State.”

Assemblyman Brian Curran (R-Lynbrook) echoed Skelos’s sentiments about tax relief. “I still think we have to deal more with the income and the general tax structure,” he said. “We made strides in the personal income levels, getting the middle-class income taxes to the lowest it’s been in 53 years. But I also think we have to address other areas, such as corporate tax or the death tax, which the Governor did propose in his State of the State.”

Curran said his other top-two priorities for the year would be making sure that federal money from New York Rising reaches victims of Hurricane Sandy and to address the issues surrounding the implementation of the Common Core Curriculum.

“There has to be some type of allowances for special-needs children and special education,” Curran said. “It’s kind of silly that they give a special designation for a special education child, but then they make no allowances for that special designation under Common Core. That’s just one of many things that has to be looked at and addressed.”