The Nassau County Legislature Monday asked state lawmakers to approve two tax extensions that would bring in $320 million a year, but the move drew sharp criticism from a key Assembly member. Earlene Hooper, (D-Hempstead), the Assembly's deputy speaker, threatened to hold up the sales tax extension, which brings in $317 million.

Hooper also said she would hold up reauthorization of Nassau's Hotel/Motel and entertainment tax, which brings about $2.7 million a year to the county.

Hooper said her constituents in the villages of Hempstead and Freeport don't get a fair share from either revenue stream. "The villages spur $40 million to $50 million in sales tax revenue and get back about $150,000 each," Hooper said. "That's a pittance."

But Chief Deputy County Attorney Rob Walker told the legislature that if Nassau doesn't get the revenue, "we could face massive cuts due to a $317 million budget gap for next year -- the equivalent of a 40 percent property tax hike."

Hooper said she is requesting that the county legislature instead to pass "home rule" messages asking for state approval of her reauthorization proposals, which she said would funnel more revenue to Hempstead and Freeport. "They will pass the Assembly," she said.

Hooper's bills would direct large amounts from both tax streams to Nassau villages with populations exceeding 42,999. The only two villages that fit that criteria are Hempstead and Freeport. They are the state's two largest villages and have predominantly minority populations.

Asked about the reaction of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver to Hooper's stance, Michael Whyland, spokesman for Silver, a Manhattan Democrat, said that "typically . . . the Speaker will defer to the local delegation in these matters. Deputy Speaker Hooper is the dean of the delegation, and he [Silver] is aware of her concerns."

In other matters, the county legislature approved two departmental consolidation requests by County Executive Edward Mangano that he said would save $2 million annually.

The Department of Planning was merged with the Department of Public Works. And a new department of Health and Human Services will merge the department of Mental Health, Chemical Dependency and Developmental Disabilities with Senior Citizen Affairs, the Office of the Physically Challenged and the Youth Board.

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