Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano Thursday tamped down his warning that county residents could face a large property tax hike unless the county legislature approves millions of dollars to pay tax refunds.
Mangano in his State of the County address Wednesday said there would be "a massive property tax hike or deep, deep cuts that impact all levels of service," if at least three Democratic county legislators didn't join 10 Republicans lawmakers to authorize borrowing of $102 million to pay tax refunds. A supermajority of the 19-member legislature would be needed for the borrowing.
On Thursday, Mangano spokesman Brian Nevin said the county executive "will not increase property taxes. Instead, he will continue to slash the size of government."
Democrats have said they won't support such borrowing until the Republicans detail its necessity and also commit to a legislative redistricting plan "fairer" than a GOP plan that's been proposed. Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport) said the redistricting plan, which must be in place by 2013, should be done in a nonpartisan way.
"And Mr. Mangano is mistaken if he thinks he can bully us into any position," Abrahams said.
Abrahams said his caucus is willing to negotiate with Mangano, "but his numbers keep fluctuating, and it's difficult to negotiate when you don't have an honest broker across the table."
Legislative Presiding Officer Peter Schmitt (R-Massapequa) Thursday repeated his opposition to a property tax hike.
But Legis. Wayne Wink, (D-Roslyn), said: "If we don't make the case for a two-party system to exist in Nassau County, the residents will lose everything -- one party will control the entire process, including the ability to borrow money unchecked."
Nevin said the "administration will not allow certain politicians to place their own personal interests for career advancement over that of the people."
Lawrence Levy, the executive director of Hofstra University's National Center for Suburban Studies, said that while Democrats can block borrowing, "if the Republicans go ahead with the threat of cutting services, the Democrats could get the blame and look bad to the voters."
Jerry Laricchiuta, head of Civil Service Employee Association Local 830's 8,500 members, said that "massive cuts among my people would shut down parts of government."
Since 2010, nearly 1,800 employees have been cut from the county workforce through layoffs, retirement incentives and plain retirements.