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Committee OKs Mangano's $2.79B budget plan

Norma L. Gonsalves, of the 13th Legislative District,

Norma L. Gonsalves, of the 13th Legislative District, speaks during legislative session at the Theodore Roosevelt Executive and Legislative Building in Mineola a week after Presiding Officer Peter J. Schmitt passed away. (Oct. 15, 2012) Credit: Steve Pfost

A Nassau legislative committee Monday approved County Executive Edward Mangano's $2.79 billion budget plan and sent the measure on to the full county legislature.

The 2013 budget would hold property taxes steady and increase spending by $44 million, compared with projected total spending for 2012. The plan passed Monday by the Finance Committee also would increase licensing fees and cut spending for departments serving youth, seniors and the disabled.

A date for a vote by the full legislature has not been scheduled.

The legislature is split 9-9 between Republicans and Democrats following the death of Presiding Officer Peter Schmitt (R-Massapequa). Schmitt's seat will be filled in a special election on Nov. 6.

"Neither of us has a majority and unless an agreement is worked out between the two sides, it does not appear that there will be a majority and a presiding officer soon," minority spokesman Michael Flores said. "And there is no agreement in place on this yet," he added.

Legis. Norma Gonsalves, (R-East Meadow) is acting as temporary presiding officer. The county charter requires a vote for presiding officer when the full legislature next meets.

Under Mangano's proposed budget, most departments would see little change from their projected total spending for 2012. However, Human Services would be cut from $41.7 million to $32 million, and the Board of Elections would be trimmed from $20.5 million to $17.7 million. Increases would go to Housing and Community Development, from $714,000 to $1.1 million, and the Parks Department, from $18.9 million to $20.1 million.

The spending plan calls for new two-year licenses for small-business owners, including scrap metal processors and secondhand precious metal and gem dealers. Parks users also would pay more to play golf and set up campers at county facilities.

The next full legislative meeting had been scheduled for next Monday.

Also Monday, the Rules Committee moved a proposal for a private developer to build ice skating rinks -- one outdoor and two indoor -- in Eisenhower Park. The county would share in the profits. All three rinks would be built on unused property adjacent to the aquatic center.The 4-3 vote on the issue was along party lines, with the Democratic minority withholding support until they see further documentation that the developer can afford the estimated cost of $10.5 million. "If it can, then it seems like a good thing for the county," said Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams, (D-Freeport).

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