Mangano-Schmitt plan: Trim $41M from budget

County Executive Edward Mangano and Presiding Officer Peter Schmitt proposed a $41-million cut from this year's budget if Democratic legislators continue to thwart a move to borrow the money. Videojournalist: Howard Schnapp (May 11, 2012)

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Republican County Executive Edward Mangano and legislative Presiding Officer Peter J. Schmitt laid out a severe plan Friday to cut $41 million from this year's budget to pay property tax refunds if Democratic legislators thwart a move to borrow the money.

"Now is the time to stop the nonsense and get on with the plan," Mangano said, gesturing to a chart showing that borrowing to pay for the tax settlements would end by 2015 under his proposal. That plan has been approved by the legislature and, conditionally, by the Nassau Interim Finance Authority, a state fiscal watchdog.

Mangano wants lawmakers' approval to borrow a total of $102 million to pay court-ordered refunds.

He said that without the borrowing the county is in jeopardy of having liens placed against its bank accounts. Mangano said that if Democrats don't support the borrowing at a legislative meeting on May 21, he will seek passage of his budget cuts "to be used as needed." He said Nassau has $90 million in reserve but that it would be "irresponsible" to tap it.

Schmitt -- who initially expressed qualms about giving Mangano the power to make unilateral cuts without legislative oversight -- amended the original proposal so that the county executive's authority would end when the $41 million in savings is achieved.

Borrowing requires a two-thirds majority of the 19-member legislature. Republicans have a 10-9 edge, so at least three Democrats must approve the borrowing.

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Democrats say they won't support borrowing until the Republicans detail why it's necessary and also commit to a legislative redistricting plan that is "fairer" than a plan already proposed by the GOP.

"This is another blatant example of Ed Mangano trying to deflect responsibility for his mismanagement of the county's finances for the last 2 1/2 years," Legis. Wayne H. Wink Jr. (D-Roslyn) said Friday.

Under the cuts Mangano proposed Friday, county employees could be furloughed on Mondays, funds embargoed and contributions to employee benefits reduced or eliminated.

Ryan Mulholland, a spokesman for the Civil Service Employees Association Local 730, said: "We believe the opening of contracts to be illegal, and a violation of the U.S. Constitution. We believe furloughs to be illegal as well, since we are annually salaried employees."

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