Outgoing County Executive Thomas Suozzi said Tuesday that he will not veto the repeal of the 2.5 percent energy tax even though it likely will blow a $39-million hole in the budget and lead to a downgrade in the county's credit rating.
"I think it is irresponsible to repeal the energy tax without finding a commensurate amount of cuts," Suozzi said. "I've been saying that for the past six months. I would repeal it myself if I thought I could responsibly do so."
But he said he would leave all decisions on the repeal to incoming County Executive Edward Mangano, who takes office Jan. 1. "I think it would be unfair of me to take an action that will affect his administration," Suozzi said.
And Mangano said Tuesday that he looks forward to signing the bill approved by the county legislature this week. "Repealing that tax is a cornerstone of my campaign," said the Bethpage Republican, who defeated Suozzi, a two-term Democratic incumbent.
The legislature on Monday voted 13-5 to repeal the tax on home heating fuel, effective June 1. With sales taxes declining because of the national recession, the 10-member Democratic majority voted to impose the tax earlier this year at Suozzi's urging.
After campaigning against the tax during last month's election, Republicans won control of the legislature and executive's office.
Mangano said he expected to present a plan to fill the budget gap created by the repeal early in his administration.
"What we want to do is to responsibly identify the cuts and communicate them to the rating agencies so that we don't trigger an interest-rate increase that will cost taxpayers more dollars," he said.