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Maureen O’Connell: Edward Mangano fee hikes ‘immoral’

Maureen O'Connell, Republican candidate for Nassau County clerk,

Maureen O'Connell, Republican candidate for Nassau County clerk, criticized fee hikes proposed by Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano. Credit: James Escher

Nassau County Clerk Maureen O’Connell on Tuesday decried County Executive Edward Mangano’s plan to increase fees for common real estate transactions, calling it “outrageous, punitive” and “immoral.”

Standing with real estate professionals in the lobby of her office, O’Connell, a Republican, strongly criticized fellow Republican Mangano — though not by name — and urged the GOP-led legislature to remove his proposal from the 2018 budget.

Mangano’s $2.99 billion spending plan calls for increasing the assessment department fee for verifying tax maps from $355 to $455 and the clerk’s office fee for Block recording from $300 to $400.

The increases are projected to raise a combined $23.6 million in annual revenue for the county.

The two fees are required for home purchases, refinancings and deed recordings in the county. When O’Connell took office in 2006, the tax map fee didn’t exist and the Block fee was $10.

“This is going to cause an especial hardship to first-time home buyers, seniors and veterans,” said O’Connell, who is seeking her fourth term in November. “We have people crying to us over how terrible it is.”

She added that the tax map verification fee “has no relation” to the cost of recording land documents. Courts have previously found that fees that aren’t directly tied to the service provided may be considered illegal.

Randy Kaplan, the Long Island Board of Realtors’ government affairs director, called county officials’ statements about wanting to attract more young people to Nassau, “a lot of malarkey” considering the real estate filing fee increases they’ve approved in recent years.

“When is enough?” Kaplan said.

O’Connell, who has opposed many of the previous fee increases, called on the real estate professionals to speak before the legislature during hearings on the 2018 budget.

O’Connell’s opponent in November, Democrat Dean Bennett, said he opposes the tax map and Block fee increases.

“It’s prohibitive to the real estate profession and the home buyers in Nassau County,” Bennett said Tuesday. “It’s excessive, and there has to be a better way to find some relief.”

Most of the 19 county legislators are seeking re-election in November, and some already have signaled that they may oppose the fee increases. Legislative leaders have said they are reviewing Mangano’s proposal.

Mangano is not seeking re-election as he fights federal corruption charges. The candidates seeking to replace him, Democrat Laura Curran and Republican Jack Martins, oppose the fee increases.

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