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Suozzi hits Nassau officials on finances

Former Nassau County Executive Thomas Suozzi speaks about

Former Nassau County Executive Thomas Suozzi speaks about issues as he announced he is running for his old job at his office in Uniondale. (Feb. 14, 2013) Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

Thomas Suozzi and Howard Weitzman, Democratic candidates for Nassau County executive and comptroller, on Monday criticized the Republican county administration for delaying the release of budget figures they said should have been available months ago.

At a news conference in Uniondale, Suozzi, a former Nassau County executive who is seeking to unseat Republican Edward Mangano, said GOP county Comptroller George Maragos should have released a preliminary end-of-year financial report for 2012 in February or March.

Suozzi also criticized Maragos for projecting in January that Nassau would end 2012 with a $25 million surplus, after previously estimating a $45 million deficit for 2012.

"They're misleading the public on the results of the 2012 budget," Suozzi said. " . . . The public deserves the truth about the state of our county budget."

Suozzi made no mention of East Hills businessman Adam Haber, who is challenging Suozzi in a Democratic primary in September.

Asked if he was trying to position himself as the candidate against Mangano, Suozzi said only that his news conference was, "all about the residents of Nassau County."

Justin Myers, Haber's campaign manager, called the debate about the 2012 figures "more of the same Suozzi-Mangano pattern of hiding budget failures and misleading Nassau's taxpayers."

Maragos has scheduled a news conference Wednesday to announce preliminary results for fiscal 2012, which he said would include a surplus.

Maragos spokesman Jostyn Hernandez said the comptroller waited to release the 2012 closeout numbers until the federal government released its reimbursement rate for superstorm Sandy-related expenses.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency said last month it would reimburse 90 percent of the county's Sandy-related costs, Hernandez said. "What would have been irresponsible would have been putting out preliminary numbers without knowing how much FEMA was providing," Hernandez said.

Weitzman also criticized Maragos for seeking an extension for submission of the county's end-of-year report for the second consecutive year. The report must be filed by June 30 for outside auditors to review.

"The public is entitled to timely and accurate financial statements," Weitzman said.

Hernandez said Maragos filed an extension request this year in the event FEMA reimbursement percentages were delayed. Hernandez said the comptroller expects to file the 2012 report by the June 30 deadline.

Suozzi at the news conference touted his fiscal record as county executive from 2002 through 2009. Although he raised taxes at the start of his administration, Suozzi said the county had eight consecutive balanced budgets and 13 bond upgrades when he was in office.

Mangano spokesman Brian Nevin said Suozzi, "left a multimillion-dollar budget gap that County Executive Mangano has cleaned up."

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