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Opinion

EDITORIAL: Nassau assessment review panel cost too high

The new Mangano administration is wasting energy fighting six last-minute appointments by Democrats to the Assessment Review Commission. Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano is using "reform" of the troubled assessment system to cloak an effort to hand out his own patronage posts. This is much ado over jobs that should be eliminated.

County Democrats made the appointments before they rode out of power in December. They include two full-time commissioners, each paid $130,000, and four part-timers, paid between $20,000 and $75,000. The six say they were appointed to fixed terms and can't be dismissed without a good reason. A judge has halted any firings.

But Mangano doesn't need every last ARC member to implement changes. He has named a chairman, Kevin O'Donnell, who can set policy in cooperation with the county attorney and assessor. O'Donnell was a Suozzi administration appointee. His elevation shows that assessment issues have nothing to do with political ideology.

In fact, this may be the moment to eliminate ARC. It was formed as a temporary board to trim the backlog of assessment appeals. It hasn't worked, and has grown into a $5.6-million fixture. There's an argument to be made for keeping ARC's case settlement role, but surely not at such a price tag.

Mangano has a budget gap to close. He should focus on that big job rather than six small ones. hN

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