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Competing plans clog Nassau sewer progress

Republicans and Democrats traded barbs Friday over competing proposals for a committee to oversee up to $2 billion in repairs and upgrades for Nassau County's sewer system.

Earlier this month, County Executive Edward Mangano, a Republican, asked the county legislature to approve $722 million in borrowing for the first phase of a new and better sewer system, 90 percent of which he expects to be reimbursed by the federal government because of superstorm Sandy.

Democrats opposed the full amount but agreed to bonding $260 million "as a start." Democrats said the larger spending package needed more oversight. Borrowing requires three Democratic votes for passage.

Mangano spokesman Brian Nevin said that with their oversight committee, "Democrats are looking for political cover since they failed to support the repairs necessary at Nassau's sewage treatment plants."

Mike Florio, spokesman for legislative Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport), said Mangano's "committee is stacked with his own appointees and is purely symbolic and toothless. Our board would provide a substantive role in the contracting and oversight of the sewer rebuilding."

Each committee would review contracts and the progress of work. Mangano's committee would report to him, while the Democrats' panel, proposed Thursday, would send its recommendations to the Nassau County Legislature.

The Mangano board has 14 members -- three that he appoints, one each named by the Republican and Democratic legislative leaders, seven from environmental groups and two from the Nassau Suffolk Building Trade Council.

The Democrats' 10-member board would have four members appointed by legislative Presiding Officer Norma Gonsalves (R-East Meadow), four by Abrahams and two members of the building trades council, one of whom Gonsalves would pick and the other to be chosen by Abrahams.

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