Nassau lawmakers pass $2.8B county budget

Nassau County Legislators during the budget vote in Nassau County Legislators during the budget vote in Mineola. (Nov. 20, 2012) Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

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The Nassau County Legislature yesterday approved County Executive Edward Mangano's 2013 budget of $2.8 billion with only minor amendments, including $2 million more for youth services.

The spending plan passed the GOP-controlled legislature on a 10-9 party-line vote.

"This budget paves the way for economic growth while protecting families and seniors by holding the line on property taxes and restricting spending," Mangano said in a statement.

Legis. Dave Denenberg (D-Merrick) said, "Mangano's and the Republican adopted budget set the priorities as increasing fees as well as outside legal contracts to the politically connected while cutting youth and veterans services and continuing to run deficits."

Presiding Officer Norma Gonsalves (R-East Meadow) dismissed the comments, saying there is less spending than ever on outside legal contracts.

Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport) offered a variety of amendments that he said would cut $62 million from proposed spending. He said that would enable the county to boost funding for contract youth agencies to last year's level of nearly $8 million, and replenish depleted reserves. All the amendments were defeated.

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Republican amendments increased funding for the outside youth agencies, which provide after-school, drug-treatment and other services, by $2.02 million. Mangano, a Republican, had proposed $1.9 million for the groups. The additional money approved Tuesday brings total funding for the agencies to nearly $4 million in 2013, compared with $7.3 million last year.

"Never say never," Gonsalves said to those who had decried the youth program cuts, and the added money as too little.

Legis. Judy Jacobs (D-Woodbury) later told some of the youth service providers on hand for the vote that their "thank you's" for the additional money could be misplaced.

"Don't think this money will reach you -- the administration has already said this money will be distributed differently than it had been in the past," Jacobs said. "They say there is a new matrix."

County officials did not respond directly to Jacobs' comments. Instead, Commissioner of Human Services Lisa Murphy said in a statement that Nassau "is working with the Hagedorn Foundation to implement a public-private partnership that reaches more children than ever before."

Darren Sandow, the foundation's executive director, said Hagedorn and Murphy are part of a task force that has been working to more efficiently manage services to youth, including getting payment to those providing the services.

The private Hagedorn Foundation, of Port Washington, was incorporated in 2005 "to support and promote social equity on Long Island."

Overall, Mangano's budget holds property taxes steady and increases spending by about $44 million compared with projected total spending through the end of 2012.

The budget calls for spending cuts for departments serving youth, seniors and the disabled.

New two-year licenses for small-business owners, including scrap metal processors and secondhand precious metal and gem dealers, would bring in $1.6 million in new revenue over two years, officials said. Parks users would pay higher fees to play golf and set up campers at county facilities.

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Departments that would receive increases include Housing and Community Development.

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