Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano has filed a bill that would allow him to unilaterally cut $40 million in spending as he continues to pressure Democrats to approve $140 million in borrowing.
The local measure, which would require a majority of 10 votes rather than the 13 needed for borrowing, would authorize Mangano "to take any and all actions he deems necessary" to save $40 million.
Actions could include furloughing employees, modifying county contracts, eliminating Nassau County's contribution to employee benefits, reducing operating hours and closing agencies or departments.
But legislators, who control the budget, say they are not ready to hand Mangano a blank check.
Presiding Officer Peter Schmitt (R-Massapequa), leader of the 10-member Republican legislative majority, said he expects to amend the submitted bill to say exactly what Mangano can do.
"There's legislative powers that we can't give away, even if we want to," Schmitt said. "For example, it says he could dispose of vehicles, buildings and property as he sees fit. He can't do that. Only the legislature can do that."
He added, "The cuts will be enumerated and clear to see" when the legislature considers the bill May 21.
"Our big thing has always been checks and balances," said Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport). "We're not going to walk away from our responsibilities."
Schmitt and Mangano blamed the nine Democratic lawmakers for not providing the three votes necessary to borrow $102 million in tax refunds and $38 million in court judgments. Democrats have refused to approve borrowing until Republicans agree to an impartial nonpartisan redistricting process.
"There is no doubt if the Democrats persist in their attempts to shut down the government," Schmitt said, "significant painful cuts will have to be made."
A Mangano spokesman said, "The law provides the county executive with the powers necessary should the Democrats move forward with their threats to cause a fiscal crisis."
Abrahams responded, "Ed Mangano will continue to try to blame the Democratic minority . . . but the fact remains -- and NIFA has said -- that this county's finances after his two years in office are worse than they were before."
The Nassau Interim Finance Authority is the county's financial control board.