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Residents pay for Nassau's sloppy bookkeeping

The Nikon-Jones Beach Theater on Thursday, June 25,

The Nikon-Jones Beach Theater on Thursday, June 25, 2015 in Wantagh. Credit: Howard Schnapp

It's time for Nassau County officials to go back to school -- with a Management 101 class in the required course load.

Perhaps then, they'll manage the county's beleaguered finances to a point at which Nassau's tenants and corporate taxpayers are actually providing complete records and paying their bills on time.

That shouldn't be too much to ask.

Yet, for years, Nassau County hasn't properly collected payments, large and small, due from key tenants and corporate taxpayers, particularly from entertainment venues important to the county's bottom line.

The county has missed millions of dollars in rent, revenue sharing and utility payments, and often didn't get financial reports on time for Nassau Coliseum, leased by SMG and the New York Islanders. Negotiating over maintenance offsets shouldn't mean the county isn't paid.

Now, county comptroller audits show Nassau didn't properly collect ticket taxes from two other venues -- NYCB Theatre at Westbury, which thought smaller events were exempt, and Nikon at Jones Beach Theater, which didn't pay taxes on tickets it gave out for free. (NYCB disagrees with the findings; Nikon paid its bill after the audit.)

There's always an excuse -- but none is sufficient.

No well-run business would wait for an audit to determine when a debtor isn't paying. And no well-run county should, either.

Nassau should focus on improving its financial management and reporting requirements. Create a system that works, with clear rules, checks and balances, activated triggers when bills aren't paid and assurances that the county gets what it's due without negotiating deals.

Quite simply, Nassau has to become a county where records are complete and tenants and taxpayers pay their bills. So far, it's failing.