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Long IslandNassau

Nassau Legislature OKs budget with no tax increase

The Nassau County Legislature voted along party lines Monday to approve the $2.6-billion county budget for 2010 proposed by County Executive Thomas Suozzi.

The 10 Democrats in the majority restored some funding for Long Island Bus, and added money for day care and fire service training before voting approval. The nine Republicans voted against the budget after their amendments were rejected by the Democrats.

The presiding officer, Legis. Diane Yatauro (D-Glen Cove), did not comment, but had said earlier that she would be pleased to vote in favor because the budget did not call for tax increases.

Legis. Peter Schmitt (R-Massapequa), the minority leader, said the budget overestimated revenues and was not truly balanced, calling it, "a Ponzi scheme that Bernie Madoff would be proud of."

Suozzi issued a statement after the vote saying that, "despite this year's economic crisis, I am proud to report Nassau County remains financially stable."

The legislature unanimously approved the sale of 101 acres of old Grumman property in Bethpage, owned by the county, to a local developer, Steel Equities, for $28.5 million. That measure was added to the calendar late Friday at the request of the Suozzi administration, which said the developer needed to close on the deal by Nov. 6 because of financing issues.

A supermajority vote was needed for passage of the measure by committees and the full legislature on the same day, and Legis. Edward Mangano (R-Bethpage) voted in favor. Mangano is running against Democratic incumbent Suozzi for the county executive seat.

Dermot Kelly, the county's director of real estate, said up to $8.5 million of the sale amount would be set aside for cleaning up industrial solvents that were found in higher concentrations than expected during recent testing.

Mangano said he was relying on the county's assertion that proceeding with the sale was the best way to get the contamination cleaned up, and that the county would seek restitution from the Navy and from its insurance for the additional cleanup costs.

While there's no specific plan for the property, Steel Equities would be the developer for what Suozzi hopes will be an office park catering to bio-tech and new industries. Any zoning change would require the approval of the Town of Oyster Bay.

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