In his first State of the County address, Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano will touch on a host of themes ranging from fixing the county's broken property tax assessment system, to shoring up county finances and bring jobs to the area.
As he wrestled with his upcoming speech, Republican Mangano, the former longtime county legislator, said Friday that he already has made significant inroads into fixing the county's financial mess, but added that much more needs to be done.
"I've already made good on some of my campaign promises - like repealing the onerous home energy tax - but now I will be again calling on both sides of the [political] aisle to put childish opposition behind them and work together to fix the financial mess this administration inherited," Mangano said.
But Democratic County Legislator Judy Jacobs, of Woodbury, said she has some concerns about the impact repealing the energy tax will have on the county's budget.
"I will be glued to every word of Mr. Mangano's address because of grave concerns over budget holes from such things as rescinding the home energy tax," Jacobs said.
Mangano said he already has cut millions in spending and will continue to do so. "Then, we've got to fix property tax assessment," he said.
One idea he has mentioned is changing assessment from annual, to a cyclic of every three to five years. "Of course, that will require a lot of working together that includes myself and the county and the state legislatures," he said.
The speech is to be delivered at the Morrelly Homeland Security Center on part of the former Grumman Aerospace site in Bethpage, Mangano's hometown. The center, which is a research facility and an incubator for high-tech businesses, would also house Nassau's emergency command center in case of a disaster.
Mangano said the site - where the Lunar Module Eagle was conceived - was picked because it represents all things great about Long Island, past, present and future.
"Funded by government grants, the center is also a shining symbol of partnership between government and the private sector," said Mangano.
Much of his effort for new jobs in Nassau, he said, will be centered on greening of the county. "That will also include a loan program to residents for more efficient energy use," said Mangano. "That, too, will create jobs."
Mangano's first State of the County address
WHEN: 7 p.m. Monday
WHERE: Morrelly Homeland Security Center, a former Grumman site in Bethpage
ON TV: Live on Channel 12 and FIOS1
Long Islanders weigh in on Mangano's address
What some want to hear in his speech:
"Property taxes is the top issue Mr. Mangano should address," said longtime independent mayor of Atlantic Beach Stephen Mahler. "If you talk to residents, that's it. There has to be a plan of alleviation. That's why people revolted in the last election. And however it can be done, the schools must also be brought on board."
George Siberon, executive director of the Hispanic Civic Association in Hempstead, said Mangano needs to address youth services. "This notion about cuts in discretionary funding will throw youth programs under the bus," Siberon said. "But they're not really discretionary; youth services are critical to our communities. Public safety is also of great concern."
"Jobs, then housing," said Marge Rogatz of Roslyn Heights, president of Community Advocates and chairwoman of The 10-year Plan to End Homelessness. "People are losing their jobs and their homes. There is hardly a family in Nassau unaffected by the this economy. The county executive should be going after available state and federal grants to house people and help train them for viable jobs."
"[Property] taxes are killing me," said Jackie Bell, president of the Baldwin Oaks Civic Association. "Besides that, the county government really needs to do something - and I'm not sure what - about these ever-increasing utility bills, including water, electricity and gas. Mr. Mangano really needs to key in on these things to help us on fixed incomes."
"The top priorities are to do whatever he can to get people to work, to hold the line on spending, and to address the property tax issue," said John R. Durso, president of the Long Island Federation of Labor. "But the absolute top of the list for the county executive is to get people working. And I'm sure he knows that you don't get out of an economic crisis like this on the backs of the working men and women in Nassau by cutting jobs."
- Sid Cassese