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Letter: Regarding “Setting the Records Straight”

(Editor’s Note: This letter from County Executive Edward Mangano is in response to the Dec. 23 letter “Setting the Record Straight” from Dr. Ranier W. Melucci, President of the Nassau County Council of School Superintendents and Superintendent of Schools in the Merrick School District.)

Merrick Superintendent Dr. Ranier W. Melucci recently wrote about my invitation for all Nassau County school districts to join the Long Island Purchasing Council (LIPC). Unfortunately for taxpayers, school districts chose to spend our money obtaining an incorrect and bias legal opinion that tells residents his school district is not permitted to save taxpayer dollars. The Superintendent and his attorney’s couldn’t be more wrong!

Taxes throughout Long Island are too high and spending is out of control. Although I removed $485 million in County tax burden over the next four years by eliminating the home energy tax and 16.5 percent in planned property tax hikes, residents will still face high taxes since the County bill is only 17 percent of their total tax burden. Because schools make up 60 percent or more of a homeowners tax burden, schools must begin to rein in spending and work with local governments to save tax dollars. For 2011, I right-sized County government by cutting $148 million in spending, consolidating departments, streamlining functions, achieving energy efficiencies, forming a purchasing consortium, and by reducing the workforce to the lowest level since 1950.

The time has come for school districts and local governments alike to cut spending and work together to most effectively utilize tax dollars. Superintendent Melucci stated, “most of our school districts have been advised by their own attorneys, because of questions of legality, that participation in the LIPC will subject the districts to significant restrictions that would not be beneficial…” Let me tell you, they couldn’t be more wrong.

Participation in the LIPC – a purchasing consortium I created this year with Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy and several towns and villages – would open school districts up to myriad money-saving options, at no cost to them. The LIPC was formed to facilitate joint procurement of bulk purchases and professional contracts, in order to generate taxpayer savings on purchases of commonly required goods and services and reduced administrative costs, for the benefit of the taxpayers.

LIPC membership is open to all municipalities in Nassau and Suffolk Counties, including school districts. A municipality or school district must simply pass a resolution authorizing it to join and execute a Joint Purchasing Agreement with the Counties. Members are not required to purchase off any contracts awarded by the consortium. While Members are asked to use LIPC contracts “to the extent practicable,” they are specifically not required to make any purchase that is not in the Member’s best interest. Recently, Nassau and Suffolk Counties issued a bid for copy paper. Together, this bid will save taxpayers an estimated $107,000 next year on copy paper purchases.

In 2002, a similar intergovernmental purchasing model was tested in the Hudson Valley. Today, this consortium includes 43 members in Rockland, Dutchess, Ulster, Westchester, Orange and Putnam Counties. Just as the consortium has proven advantageous for taxpayers of the Hudson Valley, it will provide much needed taxpayer’s savings on Long Island.

Taxpayers deserve local governments and school districts that work together for their best interests. I urge Superintendent Melucci, as well as all school district throughout Long Island, to join the LIPC and begin working toward taxpayer relief today.

Edward P. Mangano

Nassau County Executive