Democratic members of the Nassau County Legislature on Thursday criticized a proposal by Republican County Executive Edward Mangano and the GOP majority to slash $41 million from this year's budget.
"Since taking over the county executive's office and the legislative majority [in 2010], the Republicans have consistently failed in managing the county budget and . . . now the majority plans to cede power to the county executive to unilaterally cut $41 million from the 2012 budget," Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport) said at a news conference in Mineola.
Mangano has said the cuts would include closing county officesone day a week through involuntary employee furloughs, and reductions to social service programs.
The cuts, he also has said, are needed because the Democrats won't allow him to borrow to meet financial obligations, such as tax refunds, and, as a result, liens could be placed on county bank accounts. Commercial tax refund judgments for $41 million already have been awarded to county tax refund creditors.
"It's unfortunate that Nassau Democratic legislators continue to be part of the problem rather than cooperate in advancing solutions," said Mangano spokesman Brian Nevin. "County executive Mangano has spent two years cleaning up Democrat deficits, repealing taxes and cutting millions in wasteful spending added to government by Democrat legislators."
Abrahams, along with four other members of his caucus -- Judy Jacobs of Woodbury, Wayne H. Wink Jr. of Roslyn, Dave Denenberg of Merrick and Judi Bosworth of Great Neck -- repeated that they would not vote to borrow for tax refunds, the county's largest single source of debt.
The minority leader said Mangano's first response to any fiscal problem is "to borrow." He added that Mangano has $14 million remaining from previous tax borrowing for refunds, with which "he could pay all of the homeowner tax refunds." In December, Mangano requested a total of $102 million to pay tax refunds; $20 million is for residential settlements and the remainder for commercial.
Mangano's office has repeatedly said the $14 million has just about been depleted.
The Democrats' most significant power as a 10-9 minority is the ability to stop bonding/borrowing, which requires a two-thirds vote of the legislature. They have also said they won't support borrowing until the Republicans support a "fairer" redistricting planfor legislative districts than the GOP's. The Republicans had tried to conclude the process in time for last year's elections, where they had a chance to win a supermajority. But the State Court of Appeals ruled the GOP had failed to comply with the county charter in its push to get new lines in place.