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Proposed ’13 County Budget: Holding The Line On Property Taxes

Mangano cites spending discipline; Abrahams criticizes past budgets

Touting what he said was his second consecutive year in spending decreases and the third straight year without a property tax increase, Nassau County Executive Edward P. Mangano recently unveiled the county’s proposed 2013 budget. The proposed budget totals $2.79 billion in expenditures. Published reports said the approved 2012 budget totaled $2.8 billion, up from the proposed budget of $2.63 billion.

Mangano also hailed the proposed budget for providing “essential services,” while practicing “aggressive fiscal management and a continued commitment to spending cuts.” Mangano said that since 2009, the Republican Legislative Caucus has cut over $290 million in spending from the county budget. 

“This budget protects families and seniors while also paving the way for continued economic growth by holding the line on property taxes for a third year in a row and by restricting spending so that we never return to the poor fiscal policies of the past,” said County Executive Mangano. “After two hard years of shared sacrifice, Nassau County is on a firm, stable path because of the tough and difficult choices we’ve made to cut spending and implement successful public-private partnerships. The progress we have made over the past two years ensures we never return to the days in which Nassau taxed too high, spent too much and reformed too little.”

Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams (D – Freeport) issued his own statement on the proposed budget.

“County Executive Mangano’s last two budgets relied on overly optimistic projections and thus have resulted in, a state takeover by NIFA, bond-rating downgrades and record deficits,” Abrahams said. “His 2013 budget slashes essential services and does nothing to provide relief to Nassau’s already overtaxed residents. Additionally, his outrageous job-killing fee increases will drive businesses and customers out of the county, further crippling our fragile economy.”

Efforts by Anton Community Newspapers to receive a comment from NIFA personnel on the proposed budget proved unsuccessful.

A centerpiece of the projected budget is the elimination of residential liability resulting from the assessment process. Over the past decade, no fewer than four budgets contained residential settlements totaling over $20 million in refunds. In both the 2008-09 and 2009-10 budgets, those refunds averaged more than $12 million. However, the county hopes to phase out such settlements in this year’s budget.

Reducing the county workforce has been another major project of the Mangano administration. This year’s projected budget would leave the county with 7,395 employees, the same total as last year’s budget projected, but down from 8,410 in the 2011 adopted budget and 9,177 in 2009’s adopted document. Projected employee decreases would come from the following offices: assessment, sheriff/correctional officer budget, county clerk, county comptroller, civil service, board of elections, fire commission, health department, human services, police department, parks, recreation and museums, public works, social services and county treasurer. The district attorney’s office, plus the medical examiner, information technology and county legislature offices would see slight increase in staff.

In all, the projected budget hopes to see decreases in salaries, wages and fees from $829 million in the projected 2012 budget to $808 million in the proposed 2013 document.

Overall, expenditures would come from salaries and wages (28 percent), direct assistance (22 percent), fringe benefits (18 percent), debt service (13 percent), with small expenditures for transportation and local government assistance.

Sales tax and property tax amount to nearly 70 percent of project revenues, with the rest coming from departmental revenues (6 percent), federal aid (6 percent), state aid (8 percent) and “other revenues” at 11 percent.

The proposed budget also hopes to see a slight decrease in workers compensation, with similarly slight increases in general expenses, contracual services and utility costs.

The massive budget summary released by Mangano’s office also complained of a continued weakened economy, which it claimed has cost the county up to $785 million in revenue over the past six years, including a projected revenue of $138 million for the upcoming budget year.