Written by Diane Yatauro Friday, 28 January 2011 00:00
Ed Mangano has been in office over one year now.
Under his leadership, the County’s bond rating has been downgraded for the first time in over a decade. Overtime is through the roof. He has handed out millions in political patronage jobs and legal fees. He has failed to develop a comprehensive plan to address the effects of the nation’s worst economic crisis on Nassau County’s budget, and each week we are learning of a new breakdown in one of the County’s many departments.
To top it all off the Nassau Interim Finance Authority will decide whether or not to take over the County in the next two weeks.
Now Mr. Mangano is trying to blame the former County Executive and the Democrats in the Legislature for the mess he and the Republican majority have created.
Mr. Mangano starts by complaining that he faced a difficult situation when he entered office. No kidding. Every municipality in America is facing a difficult situation.
So how did Mr. Mangano address the difficult situation? He cut a reoccurring source of $45 million in revenue. This revenue source, a sales tax on home energy authorized by the Democrats and Republicans in the New York State legislature, and currently also implemented in Suffolk and Westchester counties, and New York City, was eliminated as his first act in office. How did Mr. Mangano cut the budget to make up this loss in revenue? He did not. Mr. Mangano won the election, fair and square by saying the County was in tough shape, he would correct the problems and cut the energy tax. Well, he has cut the energy tax, but he has mismanaged the County and its budget.
Mr. Mangano next complains about the union contracts negotiated by the prior County Executive. He conveniently fails to mention that he has been in office in Nassau County government for 15 years. Mr. Mangano voted in favor of every single contract as did the entire GOP delegation. He has always been endorsed by the unions, Mr. Suozzi never was. In fact when Mr. Suozzi battled the unions for concessions Mr. Mangano would undercut Mr. Suozzi’s negotiating position by saying things like “we will not balance our budget on the backs of our hard working police and civil service union members,” on the record. Off the record he would meet with the union leadership and assure them of his support against Mr. Suozzi’s tough tactics to get concessions.
Mr. Mangano, as criticism continues to mount, has sent out hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayer funded mailings, and written numerous press releases and articles for local papers trying to blame Mr. Suozzi and the Democrats for the mess he has created. Let’s set the record straight.
Mr. Suozzi and the Democrats reduced the County workforce by one thousand people to the lowest it had been in over 35 years. He streamlined county operations and achieved historic labor concessions. Under Mr. Suozzi’s and the Democrats’ leadership, Nassau County went from being the “Worst Run County in America” to achieving thirteen bond upgrades, was cited by the GFOA for best practice budgeting procedures, and restored the pride and professionalism in county government.
It is true that after the September 15th, 2008 international fiscal meltdown the county did rely on more one-shot revenues and borrowing then it had previously under the Democrats, and it implemented the energy tax. They had to in order to keep the County stable. They did keep the County stable. In fact as late as November of 2009, Mr. Suozzi’s last month in office and the Democrats last month in the majority, all three rating agencies reviewed Nassau’s finances and declared the county stable!
Mr. Mangano complains of high Democratic spending yet the Democrats and Mr. Suozzi kept annual spending increases below the rate of inflation. In fact, spending increases, despite state mandates, were kept below 2 percent on average over an 8 year period. In addition, the county portion of the annual property tax bill was reduced from 22.7 percent of the average bill to under 16 percent of the average property tax bill.
Mr. Mangano has sought a sales tax increase from the State which they refuse to give due to the current anti-tax environment and because of his decision to rescind the energy tax which they had already given State authorization to.
Mr. Mangano says he will get union concessions, but has proposed no credible plan to do so. What is he seeking from the unions? What is he negotiating with?
In his 2011 budget Mr. Mangano relies, again, on excessive borrowing to meet his daily obligations. His revenue expectations are inflated with items requiring state approval. His budget relies on state legislation authorizing expansion of the County’s red light camera program to generate needed income, but what has he done to seek authorization?
These are tough times for every municipality in America, but Mr. Mangano is relying on the Nassau GOP’s 1970s through the 1990s playbook. A great deal of talk, no management and make sure you take care of your friends.
Less than 10 percent of Nassau’s population elected Mr. Mangano in his 386 vote victory. These voters elected him to manage our budget. That is what he should do. He has been in office for over a year.
It is time for Ed Mangano to stop pointing fingers and just do his job.