Thomas Suozzi, Edward Mangano ads spar over taxes

The central question in the race between Tom The central question in the race between Tom Suozzi and Edward Mangano is what to do about the county's tenuous finances. Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

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Nassau County executive Democratic candidate Thomas Suozzi and his GOP opponent, County Executive Edward Mangano, have released new TV ads in which they blame each other for raising taxes.

In Suozzi's 30-second ad, which began airing yesterday, he says school tax rates have increased for the second straight year because Mangano "mismanaged the reassessment process."

The ad also attacks Mangano for increasing county debt -- an assertion Mangano disputes. Suozzi, who served as county executive from 2001 to 2009, said he would "balance the budget, starting with fair assessments."

Suozzi has blamed Mangano's policies -- including granting reductions to 87 percent of homeowners who challenge their assessments -- for the growth in school tax rates. Mangano's own school tax bill grew by nearly $2,800 since 2011.

Mangano spokesman Brian Nevin said: "Tom Suozzi is a liar and forgets the average school tax bill soared by $3,036, or 84 percent, under his tenure."

Mangano has said assessments do not take in increased revenue but instead redistribute existing tax obligations.

Nassau school tax rates increased this year by an average of 6.8 percent, or more than double what most homeowners expected when they approved their school budgets this spring, even though Nassau school districts had requested an average 2.9 percent increase in rates.

The difference in rate increases was primarily because of reduced assessments from falling home values and successful tax challenges. If assessed values drop, tax rates increase to bring in the same amount of money. Mangano's 30-second ad, released Monday, criticizes Suozzi for increasing property taxes by 23 percent as county executive and for passing a tax on home energy costs. The ad, which also attacks Suozzi for boosting his salary by $65,000 in 2007, said Mangano froze property taxes and repealed the home energy tax.

Suozzi has said a 2002 tax increases was needed to plug deficits that developed under his predecessor, Republican Thomas Gulotta, and a 2009 hike was needed to help Nassau through the recession.

The pay increase, he said, was recommended by a bipartisan task force. Mangano accepts the same salary as Suozzi.

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