Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano yesterday took aim at the county's labor unions, saying he will "order" $60 million in concessions on Jan. 1 in next year's proposed $2.6-billion budget that will also not raise property taxes.

Mangano also set the stage for a fight with Nassau's school districts and towns by vowing to end the county's guarantee to refund their share of overpaid property taxes because of erroneous assessments - a move that could reduce revenue to the schools and towns by more than $80 million a year.

The county executive said he won't see savings from ending the property tax refund guarantee until 2013. Until then, he plans to borrow $364 million to pay all existing and backlogged tax challenges. By then he said he expects to correct the county's assessment system.

Straining to close a projected $343-million budget deficit, Mangano also said he plans to require, for the first time, that all nonprofit agencies, except religious groups, pay sewage treatment fees while he explores privatizing the county's sewage treatment plants.

"I am addressing Nassau County's fiscal mess head-on," Mangano said in a statement. "This budget includes common sense solutions to fix our county's finances and ensures we live within our means for years to come."

Asked about the labor concessions, Mangano said case law indicates he has the authority to require givebacks so long as he has approval from the county legislature. He said he will propose local legislation ordering $60 million in concessions on Jan. 1.

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Mangano said he hired local and national labor lawyers who "have provided us with the confidence that we can achieve these savings."

Union leaders, who had refused Mangano's plea for concessions last week, still were not budging.

"I don't think he can do it. We have contracts," said Jerry Laricchiuta, president of Nassau's Civil Service Employees Association.

James Carver, president of the Police Benevolent Association, said all Nassau unions are in the middle of a three-year concession plan that saved the county $150 million, of which $66 million came from police givebacks.

"The PBA has done its fair share," he said.

By county charter, Mangano was required to submit his proposed budget to the legislature by midnight yesterday. He briefed Republican lawmakers at noon and Democratic county legislators yesterday evening though a printed budget was not expected to be available until late last night.

Until details are released, county lawmakers had little comment. Presiding Officer Peter Schmitt (R-Massapequa) said, "It's a no-tax-increase budget, which is always good for the taxpayers."

Minority leader Diane Yatauro (D-Glen Cove) said she understands the budget "is burdened with over a third of a billion dollars in borrowing, which shifts today's expenses on to the backs of our grandchildren."

Critics also had not seen the documents, but privately doubted that Mangano could make such dramatic changes without years of court battles.

According to a news release, presentation notes and an interview about his proposed budget, Mangano would keep spending essentially flat for next year - increasing by $21 million to a total of $2.638 million. No property tax increases are planned through 2014.

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He also contends that his "bold" moves will eliminate a structural budget deficit that has dogged Nassau for years. A structural deficit results when recurring expenses are higher than recurring revenues.

Asked about the labor concessions, Mangano said case law indicates he has the authority to require givebacks so long as he has approval from the county legislature. He said he will propose local legislation ordering $60 million in concessions on Jan. 1.

Mangano said he hired local and national labor lawyers who "have provided us with the confidence that we can achieve these savings."

Union leaders, who had refused Mangano's plea for concessions last week, still were not budging.

"I don't think he can do it. We have contracts," said Jerry Laricchiuta, president of Nassau's Civil Service Employees Association.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

James Carver, president of the Police Benevolent Association, said all Nassau unions are in the middle of a three-year concession plan which saved the county $150 million, of which $66 million came from police givebacks.

"The PBA has done its fair share," he said.

 

 

HIGHLIGHTS OF MANGANO'S PROPOSED 2011 BUDGET

 

(Based on a budget letter, interviews and presentation notes. The actual budget was not yet available)

-- No property tax increase

-- $60 million in ordered labor savings

-- Ending a guarantee to refund overpaid property taxes collected by school districts, special taxing districts and towns because of incorrect assessments, resulting in savings of more than $80 million by 2013

-- Borrowing to pay $100 million in property tax refunds next year

-- Collecting $19 million by requiring nonprofit agencies to pay sewage treatment fees

-- Collecting $5 million from a long proposed LIE and Sunrise Highway patrol surcharge

-- Expanding Red Light Camera program to collect $25 million in additional revenues

-- Merging Planning and Public Works departments; merging office of emergency services with Police Department; consolidating Police Department functions

-- Maintains a workforce reduction of 417 positions, putting the total head count at 8,393.