Nassau County's Republican legislators Monday approved a measure that gives County Executive Edward Mangano authority to make more than $40 million in budget cuts without legislative approval.
The county's largest municipal union said it would go to federal court Tuesday morning to block Mangano from enacting employee furloughs or changing any provisions of the union's contract.
Presiding Officer Peter Schmitt (R-Massapequa) had said Monday afternoon that he was not going to call the item for a vote because of lingering questions about whether the measure violated any state or federal laws.
At that point, dozens of public speakers and union leaders who had spoken against the measure left the chamber.
But about 5:30 p.m., Schmitt called the measure for a vote, saying Mangano had answered questions about the legality of the measure that Republicans had posed. The GOP assured a 10-9 majority vote by bringing in Legis. Dennis Dunne (R-Levittown), who is recovering from leg surgery.
Dunne cast his vote from a room adjacent to the legislative chamber, with a Republican spokeswoman explaining he didn't want to expose himself to infection.
Democratic legislators walked away from the dais without voting, with Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport) calling Schmitt's move "disingenuous."
The measure gives Mangano power to "take any and all actions he deems necessary to create $40 million in savings for the county."
Mangano put forward the bill as a way to finance some $41 million in property tax refunds. He initially wanted to pay for the refunds by borrowing the money -- but Democrats refused to give him the three votes he needed for a required supermajority.
Schmitt spokesman Ed Ward said that, because Democrats refused to allow the bonding, "We had to take the vote."
But Abrahams said Schmitt should have given Democrats, unions and other opponents a heads-up before calling the vote.
"At the minimum, at least call them back so that there is some level of debate and discussion," Abrahams said.
The Civil Service Employees Association, which represents some 6,000 Nassau County employees, plans Tuesday morning to file for a temporary injunction and a restraining order in U.S. District Court in Central Islip.
CSEA president Jerry Laricchiuta said the union opposed the measure because Mangano "will test his abilities and strengths to a certain point. That's why we have three branches of government. There's got to be checks and balances."
In a statement, Mangano welcomed the vote.