Good evening ladies and gentleman, my name is Diane Yatauro and I am the Democratic leader for the minority caucus.
Just a few minutes ago we heard the county executive explain the State of Nassau County. As I prepared my rebuttal remarks, I reflected on the promises Mr. Mangano made during these last months. I asked myself, “What would the residents want me to say tonight”?
So I spoke with my legislators and constituents, my family and my friends and they all said the same thing: Diane, ask about the plan that was promised to us.
Tonight my remarks will ask the county executive to get specific about the direction in which our county is going.
Let me discuss the Home Energy Tax Repeal. On the day you were sworn in as county executive, Mr. Mangano, you repealed the energy tax. That momentous signing in January has caused much confusion for our residents. Letters were mailed out declaring that you “Stopped the Energy Tax.”
So please explain why this repeal will not go into effect until June? Our residents are still taxed today; clearly they thought this repeal would take place in January when you signed the bill.
Why didn’t you exercise your right to a waiver which would allow you as the county executive to expedite the repeal so the residents would see the money you promised now?
I want to discuss your response to NIFA /NIFA is the Nassau Interim Finance Authority, this agency monitors the county’s spending and revenue, they are our fiscal watchdogs.
When the county executive signed the Energy Tax Repeal he created a $38 million budget short fall, so NIFA asked Mr. Mangano for two updated plans due March 6th:
First NIFA asked for an update to the 2010 budget, a budget which was balanced before the repeal. Mr. Mangano you replied to this request by stating that you would make cuts to the budget. A review of these cuts suggests that your plan is not a headcount reduction, but simply a cut to the vacancies that were funded by the previous administration.
Truth be told, you are just cutting contingency funds, so new monies have NOT been found.
Something very new and quite disturbing is the suggestion that your administration is projecting cuts to several vital programs. You labeled this as discretionary funding. These programs include:
Youth Agencies which allow our children to flourish and remain safe.
How unfortunate it would be to reduce funding from these programs as we fight a growing heroin problem on Long Island.
Senior Services which provide much needed programs for our parents and grandparents who need a little help in their golden years.
And Veterans Programs which repay those men and women who unselfishly served for us.
Mr. Mangano, please rethink the possibility of making such severe cuts, in some cases as much as 50% to the very fabric of our county?
That brings me to the Multi-Year Plan.
The plan was due to NIFA on March 6th. I am concerned that this plan has not been your priority.
If you need more time to make adjustments, why not ask NIFA for an extension, Mr. Mangano. Your lack of response sends a poor message not only to NIFA, but to our Bond Rating Agencies as well as our residents.
We deserve transparency when it comes to any budget shifts. Your lack of response puts Nassau County at risk for a downgrade to our stellar bond rating and by failing to disclose your intentions, you are reverting back to the bad old days when we faced bankruptcy and a possible NIFA take over.
Finally, let me review various risks which need to be watched.
Take Home Cars: There is a sudden influx of county cars parked in administration spaces. I would like to see a listing of new and used cars that are now taken home.
When you were a legislator you fought for a reduction in take home cars, and we agreed with your position, so please explain why you are now demonstrating such a change of heart.
Sales Tax Revenue: Our residents have yet to demonstrate confidence in purchasing. Sales Tax Revenues may continue to generate disappointing numbers. As this is the County’s earning engine we need to be conservative in our fiscal planning and monitor revenue shifts that occur to our budget.
Capital Plan: Last year my caucus passed the 2009 Capital Budget in January, by getting this done early, many projects began in the spring. This year the county’s 2010 Multi-Million Dollar Plan, a plan that will create hundreds of new jobs, build, fix and maintain County roads, County buildings and County properties has yet to go to committees.
I strongly urge the county executive to follow our example and reach out to both sides so we get this plan passed immediately so we may put our neighbors back to work. Spring is just around the corner and we have yet to go out to bid the contracts. The administration needs to do better so we continue to keep Nassau County moving.
I will close on a personal note, Ed.
You made a promise of bi-partisan dialogue, and you pledged to lower our taxes. Well, my friend, you have been in office for 3 months and to date you have not met with me or spoken about your plans to lower our taxes.
My caucus represents eight of your districts, which totals more than a half-million residents. As the minority leader I await an invitation to work with you.
Nassau County is our home. Working together we can create a stronger county.
I am grateful to have had this opportunity to speak with you.
Thank you and good night.