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Mangano presses lawmakers to replace lost school-zone camera revenue

Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano urged legislative leaders

Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano urged legislative leaders figure out how to replace $30 million in projected annual revenue that would be lost by repealing the county's unpopular school zone speed camera program. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano late Wednesday urged legislative leaders to figure out how to replace $30 million in projected annual revenue that would be lost by repealing the county's unpopular school-zone speed camera program.

In a letter, Mangano provided lawmakers with a range of "painful" suggestions -- including cuts to health, police and social services, and even selling billboard advertising at county facilities and on county roads.

Mangano, a Republican, wrote to Presiding Officer Norma Gonsalves (R-East Meadow) and Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport), saying, "it is imperative that we work together in a responsible manner to balance the budget."

The county legislature is expected to vote unanimously Monday to repeal the program. But Mangano cited concerns of the county's fiscal control board, the Nassau Interim Finance Authority, and Wall Street rating agencies that the repeal would leave a hole in Nassau's $2.98 billion 2015 budget, potentially resulting in a bond rating downgrade.

"As you are acutely aware, management of government operations and delivery of services will be impacted should the county budget become unbalanced," Mangano said.

He suggested more than a dozen expense cuts or revenue initiatives worth a total of $93 million. Some require approval from New York State or NIFA.

The options include cutting $13 million in payments to Nassau University Medical Center; $7 million from youth programs; $4 million in NICE Bus subsidies; $1 million for community policing and $1.25 million in village sales tax sharing.

For new revenue, Mangano suggested: increasing a 911 surcharge paid by cellphone users, to bring in $8 million; allowing electronic billboards at county facilities, for $6 million; seeking state reimbursement for Nassau police patrols of the Long Island Expressway, for $5.7 million; and reviving a plan to have private investors pay down $30 million county sewer system debt in exchange for some system revenue.

Mangano said he wasn't endorsing any of the options, noting they "are painful." He told Gonsalves and Abrahams that "as elected officials we have a fiduciary responsibility to immediately address the budget implications of your repeal."

The administration has scheduled a meeting Friday to review options with legislators.

Gonsalves' office said Wednesday night it would review Mangano's letter before commenting.

Abrahams said Democrats will examine options and consider those that "do not burden taxpayers or reduce services."

The speed-camera program was rolled out over the summer and immediately sparked complaints that it was aimed more at making money than improving safety. Residents said most of the sites with cameras had few pedestrians and insufficient signage warning them of the reduced speed limits.

A Newsday analysis of traffic accident data showed the cameras are monitoring dozens of areas with no history of speed-related accidents.

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