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Long IslandColumnistsJoye Brown

Laura Curran sketches out an agenda

The Nassau County executive-elect says she will focus on economic development and keep NICE bus routes intact.

Nassau County Executive Elect Laura Curran speaks outside

Nassau County Executive Elect Laura Curran speaks outside the Theodore Roosevelt County Executive Building on Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2017 in Mineola. Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

Incoming Nassau County Executive Laura Curran gave what amounted to her first post-election policy speech at a crowded smart-growth summit luncheon Friday.

She said she intended to create the post of deputy county executive with responsibility for economic development.

“If you want to clap, you can,” she told more than 1,000 people at the Vision Long Island Smart Growth Summit at the Crest Hollow Country Club.

And clap they did.

Curran said she intended to find money enough to keep intact Nassau’s privately managed bus system — which frequently has required infusions of county money to keep routes going.

“Let me be clear,” she said, “funding for NICE bus will not be on the chopping block.”

At this, the crowd applauded, and loudly, too — without prompting.

Curran also said she intended to staff Nassau’s Industrial Development Agency with members who have expertise enough to balance the needs of businesses needing incentives with those of county taxpayers — who would bear the cost of IDA-approved property tax relief for businesses.

“We need to bring transparency,” including publishing reports about IDA activities on the independent agency’s website, Curran said.

As for Nassau’s Hub in Uniondale — the largest parcel of undeveloped property in the county — Curran said she would work with another Democrat, Hempstead Supervisor-elect Laura Gillen, and the Republican-run county legislature and town board to turn the property into a destination.

In the speech — and, later, an interview — Curran offered some of her first public comments about how she plans to organize her government and her priorities once she assumes office in January.

One potential issue could be a state financial control board’s decision to impose cuts in Nassau’s 2018 budget even before Curran takes office.

The move, in theory, would relieve Curran of the need to make immediate — and likely unpopular — cuts herself.

But the move also would leave Curran and her newly appointed deputy county executive scrambling as of Jan. 1 to determine how the county would provide services while still following through on the cuts ordered by the Nassau Interim Finance Authority.

In the interview, Curran said she’s talked to NIFA, and that she’s confident — no matter the board’s decision — that her administration can find ways to cut more expenses.

“I think we can make it work,” she said.

Meanwhile, Curran said, her transition team — which has drawn criticism for having a high-ranking county Democratic Party official as chairman — is receiving plentiful resumes.

“I am looking for strong managers,” Curran said.

She said she intended to announce some of those appointments soon.

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