Civic talks taxes, services at lunch

Andrew Benjamin

Williston Park Civic Association president Bob Mitchell took advantage of the association’s annual luncheon Saturday afternoon to address the familiar topic of taxes 0- and their alternative.

“They don’t seem to understand ‘no free lunch’,” Mitchell said. “On the other hand the village officials are so constrained. There is only so much they can do with the money they get.”

The annual lunch is intended to allow all residents – association and non-association members – to talk about taxes and other issues with each other and local officials. 

Civic association members Mario and Rita Ruffini said they moved to the village from Astoria 38 years ago seeking better schools for their children. 

They both said they love living in the village, but they feel quite differently about the school property taxes they pay.

“School taxes are unbelievable,” Rita said. “It needs to be addressed, especially for the seniors.”

Approximately 20 residents, mostly seniors, attended the luncheon and spoke with Mitchell, as well as Nassau County Clerk Maureen O’Connell and other elected officials.

“It is a chance for people in the association and in the community to meet officials in a casual atmosphere,” Mitchell said of the luncheon. “We try to be a source to contact the village hall. We’re sort of a buffer.”

Mitchell cited roads needing repairs in different sections of the village, and finding funds to fix them, as serious problems.

“The roads are in a difficult condition. They’re trying to figure out how to repair them without a large tax financing,” he said.

O’Connell told residents about her job was and what her office does. She told homeowners that if they lose the deed to their house, they can obtain another copy through her office. 

“You can come by office and get a certified copy, which is just as good as the original. You don’t need to tear apart anything your home,” she said.

She also warned residents of an ongoing deed scam with companies who offer to do research and secure a certified copy of a deed for as much as $90. The county clerk’s office charges $5 for copies of deeds.

“Anybody who is trying to sell you any type of documents to your home relating to ownership, financing, paying off mortgages, mortgage document. If it’s not coming from my office, my signature, my stationary, it’s a scam. Don’t buy it,” O’Connell said.

She also talked about a mortgage refinance scam through a letter offering federal stimulus at great interest rates and using the county clerk’s name to endorse the offer.  

“The scams go on and on there is no end to it,” she said. She urged residents to contact her office if they were unsure a notice they receive is a scam or not.

Among the residents who attended was 92-year-old Loretta McKay, a 64-year Williston Park resident who’s fond of her neighbors. 

“Everyone in this village are good people,” she said. “They always try to do the right thing.”

She and her husband moved from Jackson Heights after he came back from serving in World War II and she had a baby. She said she’s seen Williston Park evolve from a village of small shops to one with fancy restaurants and office buildings.

“When I came here this village had two butchers, two bakeries, three supermarkets and doctors who would make house calls,” she said. “Now we have nothing but restaurants and office buildings.”

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Andrew Benjamin

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