In their first meeting together, Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy and Nassau County Executive-elect Edward Mangano talked about the looming fiscal problems that both counties face and how they might reduce expenses and lower taxes in a recessionary time.
But at the end of the meeting, the yuletide chorus among Long Island's two top executives for next year was more cut, cut, cut than ho, ho, ho.
"We're stronger as an Island when both counties work together," Levy said in his Hauppauge office while sitting next to Mangano. "Fiscal matters will preoccupy our time over the next year."
Mangano agreed that "greater efficiencies" and lower taxes will be his top priority when he takes over on Jan. 1 from Democratic County Executive Thomas Suozzi. Mangano, a GOP county legislator from Bethpage, beat the two-term Suozzi by a narrow margin that required a weeks-long recount to declare a victor.
"Fiscal issues are job one," Mangano said. "Every dime counts."
Mangano said he expects to reduce the number of managers and appointed staff positions by next month, ultimately deciding on "about 100 who will be let go."
After their hourlong meeting, the two county executives announced that they planned to jointly hire a federal lobbyist to push for regional issues, such as more aid for sewage projects.
Similarly, they said both counties would push for more money from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority by working together rather than alone.
Unlike Suozzi, who ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2006, Mangano indicated that he has no higher ambitions than "righting Nassau County's fiscal ship."
Mangano said it was "better that there was no competition" between himself and Levy, who has previously expressed interest in perhaps running for higher office someday.