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Laura Curran: GOP precinct restoration plan 'irresponsible'

The Nassau County Police 6th Precinct building in

The Nassau County Police 6th Precinct building in Manhasset on May 22, 2016. The building which while no longer functioning fully as a police precinct, still contains police activities, has numerous problems, causing police personal to deal with missing ceiling tiles, leaking sewage pipes, and asbestos. Credit: Anthony Lanzilote

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran swung back at majority Republicans Thursday, calling them "irresponsible" for trying to allocate funds in next year's budget to start reopening two closed police precincts in Levittown and Manhasset.

Earlier this week, Republicans filed amendments to Curran's $3.075 billion budget for 2019, including $1.6 million to begin the process of reopening the Sixth Precinct in Manhasset and the Eighth in Levittown.

In arguing against the precinct spending, Curran said the county doesn't have enough detectives to staff the precincts. She also expressed concern the state could try to claw back about $3 million from a Local Government Efficiency Grant awarded to the county after the precincts were closed in a consolidation in 2012.

Curran said it ultimately will cost $5 million or more to reopen both precincts. Curran had said during the campaign that she would look to reopen both precincts.

“This is the same GOP-led majority that approved the cop-saving consolidations in the first place. They were the champions of consolidation," Curran said in an interview. "And now, when there's not really the money to pay for it, and we don’t have the right staffing of detectives to reopen them as actual, proper precincts, now they're all for it. It just seems irresponsible to me." 

Curran said the Republican budget amendments have "reckless revenue increases, baseless expense cuts, and unnecessary new spending at this time.”

Frank Moroney, spokesman for GOP lawmakers, said Republicans hadn't “heard directly from the county executive, and they would welcome her testimony on Monday at the budget hearing on their proposed amendments."

Moroney said, "as far as the reopening of the precinct houses, the majority is simply trying to help her fulfill one of her campaign promises to reopen those two precincts.” 

The county legislature, with 11 Republicans and 8 Democrats, will vote on the 2019 budget on Monday.

Curran also suggested the Nassau Interim Finance Authority, which controls county finances, won't allow the precinct spending. "That's why this is a charade."

NIFA spokesman David Chauvin said, "We view this as a policy matter between county officials and the police department. As a general matter, NIFA always looks positively on efforts to find efficiencies and consolidation of services." 

James McDermott, president of the Nassau Police Benevolent Association, said he did not want to wade into a political dispute, but said, “I think this is something that both sides want, and she said she wanted during her campaign.”

“There’s ways to find the money, and it’s not as much money as you think," McDermott said. "It’s all about public safety."

Curran said she would welcome reopening the two precincts at some point.

"I just don't think now is the time," she said. "I am open to it, I understand the desire for it." 

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