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Lawmakers skeptical of Mangano tax hike proposal

Nassau Legis. David Denenberg (D-Merrick) speaks Sept. 16,

Nassau Legis. David Denenberg (D-Merrick) speaks Sept. 16, 2014, in Seaford against Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano's 2015 budget, which includes a property tax increase. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Nassau County legislators from both parties expressed skepticism Tuesday about Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano's proposed property tax hike and said they will look for other ways to reduce spending.

Mangano said his 2015 budget proposal includes a 2.2 percent tax hike that would cost the average homeowner $41 next year. Budget documents released Tuesday showed the tax hike would be more than 3 percent. Mangano said the increase is necessary to help offset a drop in county sales taxes. The state will reimburse homeowners with a combined income of less than $500,000, Mangano said.

Presiding Officer Norma Gonsalves (R-East Meadow), who with others in the 11-member GOP majority were briefed on the plan Tuesday, said she'll look for alternative "ways to reduce expenditures," without increasing taxes.

The eight-member Democratic caucus plans to oppose the measure, said Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport). "It's not the right climate to do any type of tax increase," Abrahams said.

Legis. Carrié Solages (D-Elmont) said he would not have voted to provide authorization for 56 county speed cameras if he knew Mangano was planning a tax increase.

"I feel deceived," Solages said of the tax hike.

Legis. Denise Ford (R-Long Beach) said she needed more information about the proposal before saying how she would vote. "It's too soon to know," she said.

Legis. Michael Venditto (R-Massapequa) and Legis. David Denenberg (D-Merrick), who are running for State Senate in the vacant 8th District, said they would vote against the hike.

"I reject this hypocritical budget gimmickry," said Denenberg, who held a news conference Tuesday in Seaford to decry the proposal.

Said Venditto: "I have not voted for a tax hike before and I won't do it this time."

Adam Haber, an East Hills Democrat who is challenging Sen. Jack Martins (R-Mineola) in the 7th Senate District, tried Tuesday to make the tax hike a campaign issue. "Jack Martins and his Republican allies in Nassau County continue to say one thing and do another," he said.

Martins spokesman Chris Schneider said, while Mangano should not raise taxes "on hardworking families during these difficult times," the plan will be voted on by county legislators and not state lawmakers.

Mangano said all Nassau homeowners with incomes below $500,000 would be reimbursed for the tax increase through Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's Property Tax Freeze Credit program.

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