Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano’s final budget proposal leaves county legislators — most seeking reelection in November — to grapple with a small property tax increase and $60 million in hikes to real estate and traffic fees.
Mangano, a Republican not running for a third term, unveiled his $2.99 billion spending plan for 2018 after 5 p.m. Friday. The legislature must alter and adopt the budget by Oct. 31, a week before Election Day.
Total spending, largely due to employee health care increases and money set aside to pay legal judgments, is up $28 million, or roughly 1 percent, from 2017.
To make sure revenue meets expenses without borrowing, Mangano wants to increase by an undetermined amount the $55 surcharge on traffic tickets adopted last year, to raise $35 million, and hike fees for filing tax verification — now $355 — and block maps — now $300 — by $100 each, to raise $25 million.
The total property tax levy would increase by 0.8 percent, largely to fund the county’s sewer system, which is running low on reserves. The impact on the average homeowner would be between $10 and $15, the administration said.Mangano’s budget is the first in many years to include no borrowing to pay operating expenses — something the Nassau Interim Finance Authority, the county’s financial control board, has long requested. Nassau’s 2017 budget has a $53 million deficit.
Mangano, who is fighting federal corruption charges, wasn’t made available for an interview. He attended services Friday for his emergency management commissioner, Craig Craft, who died this week.
“We have worked hard over the last eight years to shrink the size of government, provide the services our people need and stay one of the safest large suburban counties,” said Eric Naughton, Mangano’s finance deputy. “And to do that without making any cuts to critical services, a revenue increase was necessary.”
The budget’s expense cuts, totaling $30 million, primarily come from the county workforce, including a recent voluntary retirement incentive that removed roughly 300 employees. Naughton said no programs would be cut.
But the fee increases may prove to be a tough sell in the legislature.
Last year, Mangano first proposed a $105 “public safety fee” on all traffic and parking violations. After blowback, legislators cut it to $55 for traffic tickets and removed it entirely for parking tickets.
Mangano now is asking the legislature to increase the fee to an amount that would raise an additional $35 million. Naughton said it was up to lawmakers to determine how to do that.
Matt Fernando, a spokesman for the legislative GOP majority released a statement that didn’t address fee hikes, but highlighted the caucus’ role in previously holding property taxes largely flat and shrinking the workforce: “We intend to advance these taxpayer protective principles as we analyze Mangano’s last budget.”
Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport) said in a statement that Mangano’s budget looked “bad for Nassau taxpayers, filled with staggering fee increases.”
A spokesman for NIFA declined to comment Friday on the 2018 budget, saying board members had not yet been briefed.
Mangano also has offered to brief the two candidates hoping to succeed him as county executive — Republican Jack Martins, a former state senator, and Democrat Laura Curran, a county legislator from Baldwin — on his budget proposal. That is likely to take place next week, the administration said Friday.
Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano’s proposed 2018 budget
• Total budget cost: $2.99 billion, up $28 million, or roughly 1 percent, from 2017 levels
• Fees for traffic tickets and real estate transactions increase to raise $60 million
• Total property tax levy increases .8 percent. Includes decrease to major funds and increases to environmental bond and sewer funds.
•Projects sales tax growth of $31 million
• Employee costs (retirements, attrition and elimination of vacant positions): $21 million
• Social services caseloads: $5 million
• Other (contracts, equipment): $3 million
• Health Insurance: $23 million
• Judgments and settlements: $23 million
• Tax refund payments: $15 million
• Salaries and wages: $14 million
• Inmate medical care: $10 million
• NICE bus contract: $6 million
• Pension contribution: $7 million
Source: Nassau County executive