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Nassau Legislature OKs $463M borrowing for sewer project

The Nassau County Legislature on Monday approved $463 million in borrowing for county sewer treatment plants badly damaged by superstorm Sandy last fall.

Lawmakers also voted unanimously to borrow $40 million for a new crime laboratory. But they postponed a vote on $72 million to begin renovation on the old Department of Social Services building in Garden City, where the Family Court is to be relocated from Westbury.

Presiding Officer Norma Gonsalves (R-East Meadow) said she did not call the Family Court item because she wanted to give all interested parties a chance to be heard on the issue. The next full legislative meeting is Dec. 16.

Legislative Democrats joined majority Republicans -- unlike in August when Democrats only would agree to $262 million in borrowing for the sewer facilities, saying more oversight was needed.

Funding will come through a no-interest, three-year loan from the state's Environmental Facilities Corporation that Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo supported. It is to be repaid through federal reimbursements.

"My administration continues to aggressively move forward in repairing the plants . . . while strengthening the facilities from future storms," Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano said after the vote.

In other matters, lawmakers voted to join in the state's superstorm Sandy assessment relief program, which gives assessment relief to homeowners who suffered Sandy-related damage.

Legis. Dave Denenberg, (D-Merrick) argued for an amendment saying school districts should be "held harmless" for their share of any refund the county pays back for them.

"They don't have that in their budget," Denenberg said. "The county already is in court to kill the county guarantee for all refunds, and the opt-in [to the state program] must be done by Dec. 6."

But Deputy County Attorney Dan Valentino testified that the Mangano administration already had promised districts they would be protected.

In the end, Presiding Officer Norma Gonsalves (R-East Meadow) said it would take an emergency measure, requiring 13 votes, to attach the amendment. The measure only got nine votes.

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