Legislative Democrats in Nassau want to limit the county executive’s ability to appoint acting department heads for indefinite periods of time without legislative confirmation — something Republican Edward Mangano has done on numerous occasions.
The minority Democrats plan this week to file a proposed local law that would require legislative approval for a department head who serves in an acting capacity for longer than six months, and for an assessor to serve in an acting capacity for any period of time.
Acting assessor James Davis has held that title since 2012. Thomas Krumpter has served as acting police commissioner since 2014.
Should Mangano want to make either of them permanent in their titles, he’d need to submit their nominations to the legislature for confirmation hearings and votes.
“The practice of appointing acting department heads for indefinite periods of time is contrary to the original intent of the charter and is not a legitimate power of the county executive,” the Democrats’ proposed legislation says.
Krumpter earns $237,000 as first deputy commissioner, a position on the Civil Service scale, about $62,000 more than he would as commissioner.
In Davis’ case, the county charter requires experience for a permanently appointed assessor, including a college degree and certification from the International Association of Assessing Officers. His most-recent employment applications on file with the county show he took some accounting classes in college, but did not graduate or otherwise meet the required credentials.
Davis has declined to comment on his qualifications, but has noted that he had 23 years experience working in the county assessment office.
“Clearly the county assessor is too important of a position to not have a qualified person,” said Legis. Ellen Birnbaum (D-Great Neck). “The county assessment system has been proven to be both broken and unfair.”
A recent Newsday story documented a shift of $1.7 billion in taxes over the past seven years from the 61 percent of Nassau property owners who won assessment appeals to the 39 percent who haven’t.
Mangano spokesman Brian Nevin, who has credited Davis’ leadership with helping to reform the assessment system, noted that acting department heads also served under former County Executive Thomas Suozzi, a Democrat, while Democrats controlled the legislature.
“If the legislature collectively chooses to change the process, it’s their prerogative,” Nevin said in a statement. “However, our department heads — whether acting or not — appear at the legislature when requested and provide answers directly to legislators upon request.”
A spokesman for Presiding Officer Norma Gonsalves (R-East Meadow), who has sole authority to call proposed legislation for a vote, said in a statement that, once the bill is filed, the majority “will give it a fair review.”
Republicans control the legislature by a 12-7 margin.