For the first time in three years, Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano’s 2017 budget does not call for an increase in property taxes, although officials said the spending plan will include millions in new fee hikes.
The 2017 budget also calls for the hiring of 150 new police officers and nearly 90 civilian law enforcement officials to grow a department that has been hit by a wave of retirements.
Mangano unveiled details of his $2.98 billion budget in an interview Thursday. The budget was to be filed with the legislative clerk’s office Thursday night.
Mangano said sales tax growth and fee hikes will mitigate the need to raise property taxes, despite a 2 percent wage increase for county employees coming at the start of next year along with higher health care and pension costs.
“Our economy is doing better every day,” said Mangano, a Republican who has yet to announce whether he will run for a third term next year. “Our position is that a property tax increase is not needed to help our economy grow.”
Mangano proposed a 3.4 percent tax increase in 2015 and a 1.2 percent hike in 2016. The 2015 increase was stripped from the budget by lawmakers but restored by Mangano’s veto and later became law. The GOP-controlled legislature again stripped the tax increase from the budget last year, prompting another Mangano veto. But the legislature overrode his veto, killing the 2016 tax increase.
Mangano said his staff was still finalizing the fee increases Thursday and offered no details about them. Nassau hiked fees by $46 million last year.
Legis. Delia DeRiggi-Whitton (D-Glen Cove), who has not been briefed on the plan, called fees a “back-door tax” that creates “undue hardship” on home and business owners.
Mangano also will propose hiring 150 new officers to beef up street patrols, reduce overtime and to staff new anti-terror units. The department also plans to hire 120 recruits this November. The hires come as the county anticipates at least 200 officers could retire next year.
The budget also calls for hiring 87 civilian law enforcement personnel, including police service aides, ambulance medical technicians and 911 operators, Mangano said.
Adam Barsky, chairman of the Nassau Interim Finance Authority, a state board in control of the county’s finances, said Nassau “will need to look long and hard whether it can afford to hire additional people without other revenue raising initiatives.”
The budget dedicates $15 million in operating funds for property tax refunds and $37 for legal settlements and judgments. The county has traditionally borrowed to pay those costs. Under an agreement with NIFA, Nassau will be permitted to borrow $60 million in 2017 to pay tax refunds.
The county also is banking on revenue sources that may not come to fruition.
For example, Nassau projects $10 million from a law, tied up in the courts, that requires commercial properties to pay penalties if they do not provide timely information about their income and expenses.
The county also anticipates $3 million in revenue from a deal transferring the Nassau Regional Off-Track Betting Corp’s authority to host 1,000 video slot machines to Resorts World Casino in Queens. The state Gaming Commission is mulling the deal, which would pay OTB $9 million in 2017.
The GOP-controlled county legislature must vote on the budget by Oct. 30. “We will dissect and analyze the proposed budget and, as always, will work to protect the taxpayers of Nassau County,” said Presiding Officer Norma Gonsalves (R-East Meadow).