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Nassau Democrats seek vote on fee hikes before election

Nassau Legislature Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport), seen

Nassau Legislature Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport), seen in May, and other county Democratic lawmakers filed legislation Thursday, Oct. 12, 2017, to require the Republican majority to include any fee increases when it passes the county's 2018 budget. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Nassau Democratic lawmakers on Thursday filed legislation to require majority Republicans to include any fee increases when it passes the county’s 2018 budget — due by Oct. 30, a week before legislators are up for re-election.

GOP lawmakers in 2015 and 2016 passed budgets before Election Day that stripped out fee increases, only to restore a portion of the hikes weeks later, after voters had gone to the polls.

The Democrats’ bill would require lawmakers to approve all fee increases when the budget passes.

Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport) said the bill would hold “Republican lawmakers accountable to Nassau voters and prevent the majority legislators from once again hiding behind a fake budget just days before Election Day.”

Frank Moroney, spokesman for Presiding Officer Norma Gonsalves (R-East Meadow), called the Democrats’ proposal unnecessary, saying the GOP has “no plans to pass multiple budget bills both before and after Election Day.”

County Executive Edward Mangano’s $2.99 billion budget would generate $59 million by hiking real estate and traffic fees and $7.5 million by increasing property taxes by 0.8 percent to fund the county’s sewer system.

Mangano would increase, by an undetermined amount, the $55 surcharge on traffic tickets that was adopted last year, to raise $35 million. He also would hike the fees for filing tax verification — now $355 — and Block maps — now $300 — by $100 each, to raise $25 million.

Gonsalves, who is not seeking re-election, has said GOP lawmakers would strip the fee hikes but has not explained how they would replace the lost revenue.

“It would be helpful, if instead of pushing a political stunt, if Democrats offered some suggestions for how to replace the fees,” Moroney said.

Last year, the Democratic minority offered a similar bill that was never called for a vote.

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