Disputing complaints about patronage hiring, Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano is expected to announce Monday that he has cut the number of high-paid managers in his 8-week-old administration and will reduce the public payroll overall by $22 million this year.
"A cornerstone of our administration is cutting patronage," said Mangano, a Republican. "That's where our focus is. We are reducing the size of management in Nassau County."
The payroll reduction, which will also eliminate funded but vacant positions, is part of a Mangano financial plan to fill an estimated $50-million hole in Nassau's 2010 budget. About $20 million of that gap resulted from Mangano's repeal of an unpopular home heating tax.
He is expected to name a number of other spending reductions at a news conference this morning, though the largest cut will be in payroll. "It is not a layoff approach. It's doing more with less management," Mangano said.
He said he also will outline "a road map" for new policies and initiatives to grow revenues, but declined to provide specifics before the news conference.
"I think I've done a diligent job in the eight weeks I'm here to address monumental problems we've inherited," Mangano said. "They are very real and the solutions are very real."
As soon as he was sworn in Jan. 1, Mangano fulfilled a campaign promise by signing a bill repealing the 2.5 percent sales tax on home heating fuel, effective June 1.
The Nassau Interim Finance Authority, a state appointed panel that monitors the county's books, asked Mangano on Jan. 5 to report within 60 days on "specific actions" he would take to fill the revenue hole created by the repeal.
NIFA also noted it was unlikely that Nassau would receive Albany approval to impose a new cigarette tax, which was budgeted by Mangano's predecessor as raising $16 million this year.
Mangano said his plan will address the loss of cigarette tax as well as a projected deficit in sales taxes, estimated at $10 to $13 million this year. He said he transmitted his plan to NIFA on Friday.
County Democrats, who lost control of Nassau in the last election, have complained that Mangano is hiring campaign workers and other Republican party stalwarts. They point to former Judge Carnell Foskey as parks commissioner; Republican elections lawyer John Ciampoli as county attorney; and Mangano's support of GOP leader Joseph Cairo to be the county's off-track betting president.
"It's political nonsense," said Mangano, who said he was too busy trying to fix the county's fiscal problems to appear at news conferences responding to his opponents' complaints. "People elected me to do the job," he said. "I'm doing it."