Saving money for his cash-strapped county is a major goal of Nassau Executive Edward Mangano, and one way is to cut jobs, despite a need for more workers at some sites, he said.
"Some work sites, such as the Cedar Creek Sewage Plant in Seaford, must have more people because they address health and public safety," Mangano said. "But I believe we still can save money and upgrade both services and working conditions in some areas with the right approach."
Mangano was talking to a small group trailing him as he visited various county departments Tuesday, a day after his first State of the County address.
What he has to overcome is a widening financial abyss, led by a broken property tax assessment system, in the midst of high unemployment and less consumer spending, which mean less sales tax money for the county, Mangano said.
Sales tax revenue funds about 40 percent of Nassau's $2.6 billion annual budget.
Mangano later greeted workers in various departments, lauding them for their hard work.
"We really appreciate it," he said, while also promising to improve their work sites.
Responding to questions about possible service cuts, Mangano said: "Every day we take a close look at the county departments. We continue to study our options and will use a surgical approach."
At the old County Executive and Legislature Building at 1 West St. in Garden City, where the second floor houses the county attorney complex, Mangano popped into more than a dozen offices, briefly talking with workers.
Many of the offices were stacked floor to ceiling with paper-filled folders, and Mangano promised more space and better equipment, especially computers. "Some of these rooms look right out of the 1950s, some the 1960s and, the really up to date ones, the 1970s," he said.
Later, walking south on County Seat Drive, the Mangano-led group went into the Department of Consumer Affairs. "Here the workload is large but the staff is small," said the county executive, praising the department's acting Commissioner Madeline Farley.
Mangano said he and Farley plan to take a close look at the department to see what, if any, holes need filling.
"One goal here is to streamline the licensing process by working closer with the townships," he said. "Speeding up the way people obtain their licenses, whether a contractor or a limousine driver, puts people to work faster."