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Long IslandColumnistsDan Janison

Nassau comptroller won't touch NIFA issue

Nassau Comptroller George Maragos. (March 28, 2011)

Nassau Comptroller George Maragos. (March 28, 2011) Credit: Howard Schnapp

Nassau Comptroller George Maragos, one of three contenders in next week's Republican U.S. Senate primary, has so far declined to take a position for or against County Executive Edward Mangano's effort to bypass his legislature and the Nassau Interim Finance Authority on certain borrowing.

"I think that's something the county executive and legislature and NIFA have to resolve before the comptroller's office gets involved," Maragos told Newsday on Thursday.

The Mangano bill, introduced in Albany, is given little chance of success.

Maragos' role as a second-year comptroller in the NIFA-controlled county, following a career as a financial entrepreneur, comes up in his statewide campaign.

According to Nassau's official website, the comptroller and his staff "monitor" the county's budget and financial operations, audit agencies, review contracts, issue reports, work with the executive and lawmakers to solve problems, prepare the annual financial report and administer the county payroll.

Yet his broadcast campaign ad implies a wider role by making this claim: "As Nassau County comptroller, George Maragos has consistently balanced budgets with no tax increases . . . "

In the closing statements of a televised debate last night -- in which he clashed at times with his rivals, Rep. Robert Turner (R-Rockaway Point) and attorney Wendy Long -- Maragos phrased it a bit differently, saying he's had practical experience "helping balance budgets and helping hold the line against tax increases."

On Thursday, Maragos also commented on the fact that he has not hired any of the usual state political consultants for the campaign. "I'm using all volunteers," he said. "That's been something that's irritated a lot of people, especially the political establishment."

HUB FUND IDEA:The president of Teamsters Local 237, a municipal employees union with members in New York City and on Long Island, is floating the suggestion that $500 million from public-employee pension funds could be invested in rebuilding the Nassau Coliseum.

"What I'd like to see is that trustees of the various pension funds take a look at building the coliseum as a public project that could create jobs and jump-start the economy," the union official, Greg Floyd, said last week. He added that those discussions have yet to take place.

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