Editorial: Albany, reject Nassau borrowing

Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano unveils a debt Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano unveils a debt reduction and sewer stabilization plan in Mineola, New York. (May 3, 2012) Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

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As the legislative session draws to a close this week in Albany, local and state politicians are working desperately to get their bills passed. On at least one issue, failure would serve taxpayers far better than success.

There is yet another bill floating around the Capitol that would allow Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano to borrow $120 million to pay tax certiorari claims without the approval of the Nassau Interim Finance Authority and the county legislature. This is dangerous.

Mangano wants to issue new bonding based an old authorizations, approved before the current fiscal control period began. Mangano argues the county never took on the debt. In fact, though, Nassau did take on the debt, only under NIFA's bonding capacity. To pretend this is the same as not borrowing it is simply trickery.

Mangano was in Albany to press his case, but his end run didn't get a warm welcome. That's because it's reasonable for NIFA to hold up Nassau's borrowing until the county gets spending under control by enacting promised cuts. Beyond that, weakening the control-board structure at a time when more municipalities may need powerful oversight boards could set a bad precedent. Borrowing costs for municipalities could skyrocket as ratings agencies conclude fiscal discipline can no longer be imposed.

Mangano is looking for $120 million, but with these terms, the cost of giving it to him is far too high.

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