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Mangano: Nassau on road to recovery

Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano delivers his State

Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano delivers his State of the County address in Bethpage. (Apr. 11, 2011) Credit: Newsday / John Paraskevas

In his second State of the County address, Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano declared Monday night that the county is in a state of repair.

"After a decade of higher taxes, lavish spending and little reform, Nassau is now on the road to recovery because of the tough decisions made to take on the status quo," Mangano told the 19-member county Legislature in a televised address from Gold Coast Studios in Bethpage.

In his remarks, Mangano never mentioned the Nassau Interim Finance Authority, a state watchdog that imposed financial controls on the county earlier this year after determining that its 2011 budget had a $176 million deficit.

The only reference to the takeover came when he complained: "We are being forced to deal with arbitrary rules and inconsistent standards."

Mangano said that when he took office in 2010, the county was in worse fiscal shape than anyone let on and that all the problems could not be solved in one year. He cited the property assessment system, a bankrupt Sewer Authority and "expensive labor contracts that taxpayers cannot afford."

But he said he has been fulfilling his pledge to "freeze and fix the broken assessment system, repeal the home energy tax, cut wasteful spending and create jobs and opportunities."

Still, he said, there are new challenges -- an increase of $44 million in employee pension costs, $21 million in health care costs and $65 million in labor contractual obligations.

He said he is trying to renegotiate union contracts, but "to be clear, there will be voluntary concessions or employees will face layoffs."

Mangano said he also plans to develop the area near the Nassau Coliseum and Mitchel Field into a sports-entertainment destination.

The county executive said he is looking at the possibility of partnering with the Shinnecock Nation to develop a gaming casino on land surrounding the Coliseum or of asking by referendum whether residents wish to fund a new $400-million Coliseum.

He also talked about bringing new jobs and revenue to the county, including through television and moviemaking.

He said major crime is down 10 percent and discussed his efforts to get guns off the street and to respond more quickly to gunshots through the ShotSpotter system in a pilot area of Uniondale and Roosevelt.

Diane Yatauro, the legislature's minority leader, attacked Mangano's claims, saying his budget was not balanced, triggering the NIFA takeover.

"It certainly doesn't sound like we are moving in the right direction," said Yatauro (D-Glen Cove).

Michael Adams, president of the Nassau County Sheriff Officers Association, said their job is a dangerous one. Still, the union is willing to work with the county -- but only so far.

"Sometimes in jail, cost savings mean costing lives," he said.

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