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Letter: Nassau not telling full cash story

Former Nassau County Comptroller Howard Weitzman at a

Former Nassau County Comptroller Howard Weitzman at a luncheon at the Milleridge Inn. Credit: Newsday, 2008 / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

The Nassau County comptroller describing the county's year-end financial statements as "miraculous, in a way" was truly bizarre -- a miracle on the order of fantasy ["It's election year math," News, Jan. 31]. The comptroller's job is to act as the taxpayers' independent financial watchdog, not to search for nonexistent miracles in the bitter truth of the county's financial position.

This is not the first time the comptroller blessed an out-of-balance county budget. In 2011, he repeatedly assured the public that the county's budget was solidly balanced and would end the year in surplus. At year's end, he was forced to admit that in 2011, the county ended with a $50 million deficit, the largest in recent memory.

Now, after projecting a midyear shortfall of $45 million, he explains that a miracle has occurred, and the county will have a $25-million surplus. This is after superstorm Sandy wrecked the finances of every local municipality -- except, it appears, Nassau. The taxpayers are entitled to a detailed explanation of the county's financial reality. They have not received one.

Maybe it's because the county is using its own accounting rules to mask the real mess in Mineola. Deciding that the county will never have to pay $45 million set aside in 2011 for tax refunds, and using those funds for other purposes in 2012 in the face of almost $400 million in accumulated unpaid refunds, is reprehensible.

Howard Weitzman, North Hills

Editor's note: The writer is the former Nassau County comptroller and is running again for the job this year, against incumbent George Maragos.