Rockville Centre Mayor Fran Murray sat down with RVC Patch to discuss residents' concerns over incidents stemming from, how close the village is to filling its , and an update on the new Key Food replacing .
RVC Patch: In a we ran on the site, residents said they are over some of the incidents stemming from the Old Mill Court area in the village. What is the village doing to combat these issues?
Mayor Fran Murray: I know that a good mayor will surround himself with people who know what they are doing. I’m not an expert. When people came to me and said there was an issue in the Old Mill Court area, I went to our expert — our police commissioner. He sat down with the board and explained the issues going on down there that had not been addressed over the past four years. I can’t tell you what they are — it’s pretty obvious though — but we have been working diligently with other law enforcement agencies to rid Rockville Centre of those problems. And as you see, there have been arrests already. Only reason there’s arrests is because we’re going after it and we’re going to clean it up.
RVC Patch: Do you have an update on what's happening with the biggest business vacancies in the village?
Mayor Fran Murray: Waldbaum's went out of business, which I have no control over. It’s not village property, it’s private. Key Food bought the bankruptcy notes. We have no control over that either. Just last week, the owner (of the new Key Food) was in my office and he explained to us that it will be a unique, special test of a new type of store for Key Food. They are gutting the store, ceiling to floor, and it will be a high-end Key Food. We want quality people coming into rent or buy in our village. We have a vibrant downtown and empty stores don’t sit well with me. With Key Food, I think it will be wonderful. They plan on drawing from Lynbrook and East Rockaway. I don’t think it hurts King Kullen. It brings more people to the area.
RVC Patch: What about the and the ?
Mayor Fran Murray: Since I became a mayor, the word is out that it’s not the "Land of no" anymore. We’re pro business, we want to fill up our stores with the right clients, even though we don’t have total control over that. Three different individuals have come to us about redoing the RKO. Right now, one person has a bid in on it for retail stores and a doctor’s office. They may be tearing the building down, they’re not sure what they want to do. Another national chain restaurant is looking at it and there is another person who would like to put a cultural arts center in there with dining on the roof. We have three people that are ready to go, it’s just who gets there first.
The Holbro property on the highway is about 10,000 square feet. We have two people who want that. One is a high-end steakhouse, the other is a gourmet hamburger place.
On Harmon Drugs — there are two people who want to move in there. One is a “doc in the box,” the other is a grocery store. People are going to fill up these stores in the next couple years. Without a doubt, we will be at 99 percent occupancy in the next year and a half if all these people do what they say they’re going to do, and I believe they will.
RVC Patch: How much will the 2013 village budget increase from over the current fiscal plan?
Mayor Fran Murray: Cuomo let's us put out a resolution to override that (two percent) tax cap. We have great services in this village. Do you pay a little more for RVC police? Yeah, do you want them? We believe you do. We have the best fire department in Nassau county, our garbage services are great, our electric is wonderful. We have our own water, we’re pretty much self sustaining in this village.
The board has to vote to override the tax cap levy and we’ll do that Tuesday night. It doesn’t mean that you go over the tax cap, but we are. If you don’t put a law in place before you go over, you’re in a lot of trouble (the village is assessed financial penalty that affects the following budget). Our proposed budget is 6.9 percent, but we're trying to bring it down.
The governor said we can only raise taxes by two percent. He sent us a bill for three percent. Raising our taxes three points. Here's why. They lost money in the stock market and they are still catching up; the bill is for retirement funds and medical insurance. It’s not his fault; it’s the way the market went. That will probably continue for two more years. So every point our taxes go up, it's $275,000, so he just sent us a bill for $750,000 above what we're already paying. Our taxes are going up three percent just from that bill, another 1.4 percent is going up because house values are down. So we’re already at 4.4 percent before we’re doing anything. So we’re only raising it by two percent and that’s because we don’t know what the police department will get in the next contract. I'm the first mayor to take the PD to arbitration. I love our police, but I have to answer to the residents.