It was hard to watch County Executive Ed Mangano stand before every resident of Nassau County and twist the truth about the situation we're in.
Mangano campaigned on a promise to improve our county’s finances, but his tenure as county executive has been marked by incompetence and fiscal irresponsibility.
The economy is struggling. There’s no argument about that. Too many of our neighbors can’t find jobs. Too many of our kids are leaving Long Island to seek their fortunes elsewhere – and why should they stay here? Our county executive has done nothing to help our communities weather this storm.
Mangano and the Republican majority in the county legislature promised to fix our county’s broken property tax assessment system, which overcharges homeowners by a total of $100 million every year. Their idea of a fix, however, was to make schools responsible for providing refunds to homeowners who pay too much.
The recession has forced school districts across Nassau to cut programs, fire teachers and raise taxes. Now that Mangano has made them responsible for doling out property tax refunds, they will be forced to make more cuts and increase their share of your property tax bill.
I want to emphasize this point: Ed Mangano wants us to believe that his budget doesn’t raise taxes, but he isn't telling the truth.
Mangano has also levied a new tax on nonprofit organizations, although he insists the new tax is a “fee.” This new tax charges nonprofits like hospitals and universities for using the county’s sewer system. To pay it, these nonprofits will have to raise tuition rates and levy fees of their own. Whatever you call this new burden, it amounts to more money out of your pocket.
Mangano needs to be honest with the people of Nassau County. He hasn’t fixed our broken assessment system. He simply shifted the burden away from the county. He didn’t pass a no-tax budget. He is forcing other entities to charge you for the costs of his policies. Our county executive can't keep treating the county budget like a shell game.
Under Mangano’s bumbling tenure, the state has had to take over the county budget. Simply put, our current county executive isn’t up to the challenge of governing during these difficult times. We need leaders who will make smart cuts and pursue real reform of our county’s assessment system, rather than passing the cost of the problem onto our schools. We need leaders who will support smart growth.
We don’t need a casino. We don’t need the traffic it would bring. We need next-generation housing. We need places for our kids to move when they get their first jobs. We need places for young people to congregate and socialize and form the bonds that hold communities together. With well-designed neighborhoods come new residents, who pay taxes and help our county invest in its future. We need a place for a new generation of Long Islanders to settle and grow.
We’re all in this together. That’s why we have to be careful about the cuts and investments we make in hard times – and Ed Mangano isn’t thinking in anyone’s future but his own. That’s why he slashed funding to Long Island Bus. That’s why he is imposing a new tax on hospitals and colleges. That’s why he wants to build a casino instead of a neighborhood. These proposals all sound good the way he spins them, but underneath his rhetoric, they are bad policies that will leave Nassau worse off in the long run.
Jay Jacobs is the chairman of the Nassau County Democratic Committee as well as the New York State Democratic Committee.