In his first State of the County address, delivered Monday evening, Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano hit a lot of popular issues - more private-sector jobs, property tax reform, cheaper government, summer parks programs. But he didn't inspire confidence that he yet has a plan for the county's most immediate problem: a $50-million budget hole in 2010. Without fiscal stability, any other plan Mangano lays out is unrealistic.
Granted, the Mangano administration has submitted a draft 2010 budget to the Nassau Interim Finance Authority. Among other things, it cuts $22 million in payroll. NIFA is working with county officials to determine if it's adequate.
But a proposal to upgrade the county's 911 system, which Mangano promised in the wake of the weekend's devastating storm, may cost $7 million. Where's the money coming from?
Surely, the State of the County speech is for laying out big ideas and using the bully pulpit. But some changes Mangano advocates - extending the state's Empire Zone plan and making New York's approval process friendlier to developers - aren't under his direct control. His plan for cyclic property assessments has promise - but it, too, needs Albany's OK. Other proposals, such as a shared juvenile detention facility with Suffolk County, have been collecting dust for years.
Mangano has a good sense of direction, but now he's going to have to sharpen his ideas in order to lead. hN