Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano and the county’s financial control board are disputing the reasons why Mangano did not sign a controversial bill that will reduce the amount of revenue Nassau is expected to receive from a planned Glen Cove waterfront development.
The measure became law on Tuesday without Republican Mangano’s approval. The county charter stipulates that a bill becomes effective 10 days after it is passed by the county legislature if not signed or vetoed by the county executive.
A top Mangano aide said the Nassau Interim Finance Authority told the county executive not to execute the bill. But the control board’s counsel said Mangano misinterpreted his request for financial information about the measure.
Deputy County Executive Ed Ward said that even though Mangano didn’t sign the bill, he continues to support the planned Garvies Point development, an 11-story condominium and apartment complex proposed by politically influential developer Scott Rechler, who heads RXR Realty. Rechler has contributed to both Democratic and Republican campaigns, including Mangano’s, and is a member of the board of the Port Authority.
In fact, former Republican county legislator Fran Becker, who now serves as Mangano’s legislative liaison, argued with rowdy Garvies Point opponents in the audience during the Aug. 15 legislative hearings, saying, “I represent the county executive. The county executive is in favor of this project.”
The bill approved by the legislature that day will reduce the county’s share of payments in lieu of taxes from the project and allocate the difference to Glen Cove. The city’s Industrial Development Agency granted hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks after Rechler said the project could not be built without financial assistance.
Ward said NIFA directed Mangano not to act on the legislation. “His position is that while he supports the project, NIFA requested that he not execute it,” Ward said, providing Newsday with an email chain between the county and NIFA general counsel Jeremy Wise.
In an Aug. 19 email to the Mangano’s counsel, Wise repeated a request for details about the expected revenue reduction, saying “no agreements should be executed until NIFA has reviewed this matter.”
On Aug. 22, the county replied that Nassau will collect $21.3 million in payments instead of $25.5 million over 40 years.
Ward said Wise did not reply, so Mangano had no choice but to not sign the bill.
But Wise said the county is reading too much into NIFA’s request for financial information.
“NIFA’s inquiries were aimed at understanding how much money the County was foregoing by approving this project — a fact not clearly evident from the legislation. After significant correspondence and conversations, NIFA finally received the information requested. If NIFA’s final position was unclear, the County should have made one last call to staff before the County Executive made his decision on the matter. Moreover, NIFA’s approval of this measure is not required.”
Wise added, “However, NIFA retains broad discretion in all matters affecting the county’s finances.”