Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano speaks in December.

Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano speaks in December. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Public unions and Nassau lawmakers clashed Friday over an agreement between County Executive Edward Mangano and a state control board to borrow up to $450 million during the next four years while instituting $150 million in labor cuts.

On Thursday, the Nassau Interim Finance Authority, a state monitoring board with oversight of the county's finances, said it would allow Mangano to borrow to fund property tax refunds, court judgments and termination pay.

But during a contentious final hearing on Mangano's 2012 budget, Democrats said the plan was shortsighted.

"NIFA may have agreed to allow the borrowing, but they did not agree to foot the bill that they and the Republicans leave as their October gift to property taxpayers," said Legis. Kevan Abrahams (D-Hempstead).

Presiding Officer Peter Schmitt (R-Massapequa) said the bonding allows the county to reduce its backlog of assessment cases, saving Nassau $100 million annually. "We can eliminate the assessment mess and not raise taxes," Schmitt said.

County Comptroller George Maragos said the NIFA agreement puts "the county on the road to fiscal stability."

NIFA member Chris Wright said the board cannot sign off on the deal until county lawmakers approve it. "The legislature process will take its course," he said. "NIFA will monitor the outcome and react accordingly."

In exchange for the borrowing, NIFA will remain in control of Nassau's finances and continue with a wage freeze for the next four years.

In addition, Mangano is seeking $150 million in voluntary labor concessions. The county would institute layoffs and furloughs if concessions do not materialize. The layoffs would begin on Dec. 15, said Deputy County Executive Rob Walker.

Union leaders said the cuts would be devastating.

Civil Service Employees Association president Jerry Laricchiuta said his members would lose $12,000 per year while Police Benevolent Association president James Carver noted that the concessions would amount to a $30,000 pay cut.

"He is asking for something that is unattainable," Carver said. "There is no way unions can come up with a deal to cut $150 million."

Members of the Superior Officers Association would face a $35,000 reduction, said the union's Gary Learned. "Anyone who votes for this budget is voting for layoffs," he said.

Mangano spokesman Brian Nevin said the unions were "distorting the facts in an effort to hide the true cost to taxpayers. It's time to negotiate the labor savings needed to protect taxpayers and prevent significant layoffs and furloughs."

Union leaders directed some of their comments to Legislators Denise Ford (R-Long Beach) and Joe Belesi (R-Farmingdale), both of whom have labor backgrounds. Their votes will be critical as Democrats need two Republicans to break rank to defeat the budget.

Ford was noncommittal on her vote, stating that she is "hoping for the best."

The legislature will vote on the budget and amendments offered by Democrats and Republicans on Sunday at 7 p.m.

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