.

Mangano Unveils $23M in Cuts to County Budget

Proposes hiring freeze, departmental consolidation.

With the new 2011 fiscal year less than half a month away and a massive budget deficit, Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano, R-Bethpage, announced $23 million in "cuts and efficiencies" on top of an already slashed budget.

"Government has gotten fat over the last 10 years and quite frankly we're putting government on a diet," Mangano said at a press conference Thursday at the Legislative building. The new budget cuts "will serve to provide a cushion into the 2011 year," and are about "right sizing government, reducing costs and saving taxpayer dollars," Mangano said, also touting that there would be no property tax increase in the 2011 budget.

Joined by Legislative Majority Leader Peter Schmitt, R-Massapequa, and Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos, Mangano said the savings will be realized with $15 million gleaned from implementing an immediate hiring freeze on non-essential employees, $5 million in reducing government supplies and contract expenses, $2 million from the Department of Emergencies through shared staff and reduced administration positions, $1 million from a reduction in unused telephone lines and $1 million from a new marketing initiative within the parks system.

"I'm very proud of the fact that the Legislature and the county executive were able to produce a no tax increase budget," Schmitt said, adding that he "vowed to determine that that budget is going to remain in balance no matter what it takes."

Some of the contracts savings will be realized by purchasing supplies through the consortium with Suffolk County and through an effort to "reduce our office supply use," Mangano said. The county is reportedly replacing 18,000 phone lines with a Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) system.

When asked what was meant by non-essential personnel, Mangano pointed out that the county had reduced its police force to 2,233 "while maintaining the same amount of police on the street," explaining the number was important due to contractual obligations on overtime. Certain mandated positions as well as those which are funded through grants - which bring money into the county - were not cut. The county is reportedly under budget on positions.

Mangano also mentioned that a new bill will be placed before the Legislature for various departmental mergers, including consolidation of the Department of Real Estate, Planning and Development into the Department of Public Works and integration within the Department of Human Services, which will consolidate the Departments of Mental Health, Chemical Dependency and Developmental Disabilities Services, Senior Citizens Affairs, Physically Challenged and the Youth Board under one management system.

The county executive said that an announcement would be made next week as to the new structure of the departments after the Legislature had reviewed the bill. "Yes, we have a management plan in place," he said, adding that "we expect our managers to work more like private sector managers," meaning working outside the typical hours of 9 a.m. to 4:55 p.m.

Any departmental mergers would have to be reviewed by the Legislature before they can be implemented. The next meeting of the County Legislature is scheduled for Monday morning.

"We will act ... after we review the legislation to ensure what the county executive said that it's not going to have an impact on the services," Schmitt said.

According to a Nov. 30 release, Comptroller Maragos predicted that the county would end fiscal 2010 with a projected $5 million surplus. "The financial condition of the county is stable," he said, adding that the 2011 budget is projected to be balanced as well. "It's going to be a difficult year, major cuts have to be made."

Nassau is currently facing a projected fiscal deficit of $343 million. The Nassau County Interim Finance Authority (NIFA) may take over the county finances if Nassau runs a budget deficit of 1 percent or more. Using the county's current $2.6 billion budget, $75 million would total just under 3 percent. Also, costs associated with pensions and health care for pubic employees are expected to sharply rise in 2011 from the state. "Those dollars can be used in preparation of next year's budget to offset some of those increasing costs," Schmitt said.

"All budgets have risk, we've identified the risk in our budget, we've also identified significant contingencies in our budget should any of those risks come to fruition," Mangano said, adding that "every opportunity that there is to save money we will save money."

NIFA has also expressed concerns about the county's finances, reportedly asking that the total amount of bonding for tax certiorari settlements for 2011 be in place before the fiscal year begins, a move that would require more bonding.  Mangano recently came to an agreement with Legislative Minority Leader Diane Yatauro, D-Glen Cove, on $50 million in borrowing for the settlements, lower than the $75 million he originally requested.

"Should NIFA believe that that bonding should be in place prior to the submission to the Legislature, I would like to discuss that with the presiding officer and the minority leader. I have drafted the proper legislation to keep that in check," Mangano said Thursday.

"It takes two years to turn around those structural problems. This budget, the way it's presented, should be supported by everybody. This budget and the next budget gets you to turn this county around, to stop the crazy borrowing, to stop the shenanigans, to make this county look like every other county in the state. And that's the problem with Nassau County, it does not look like every other county."

Claudia Borecky December 19, 2010 at 02:39 PM
In this article, Maragos reports that Suozzi's 2010 budget left Nassau County with a $5 million surplus. "The financial condition of the county is stable," Maragos stated. Those are the facts. Let's keep that in mind when the spin tries to blame Suozzi for the county's woes.
Robert Demarco December 20, 2010 at 06:23 PM
The Nassau woes started in the Gulotta administration. Mangano and Schmitt need to remember this.
Bill Sweeney December 20, 2010 at 11:03 PM
Yes, Democrats take care of budgets very well.
Sally Richardson January 02, 2011 at 03:25 PM
"We will act ... after we review the legislation to ensure what the county executive said that it's not going to have an impact on the services," Schmitt said. How can anyone think that there will not be some kind of an impact on services when we are cutting back? And if we don't make some hard choices about decreasing or eliminating "services" then we will be bankrupt like some of the cities across the US are now. It is amazing to me that we have all these talented people pontificating about services and what cuts. Just dumb it down to your household. How do you cut back in order to pay your mortgage, gas bills, etc? Do the same with the county government.
Patrick Smith January 04, 2011 at 09:00 PM
stop all big pensions , cops, fire fighters , county workers , eliminate all golden parachute pensions for our council men ,teachers all average 100,000 plus a year .no wonder were broke . city by the sea ,the highest real estate property in america by square foot 60 x 30 lot ,i pay 10,000 taxes
Captain Kirk January 04, 2011 at 11:50 PM
We will not cut anything except maybe an obsure janitor or secretary somewhere. County workers vote en masse and politicians want and need their votes.Add to this the other unions involved in the county and you have a voting block that votes people in or out.Until we're bankrupt not one politicain will do a thing and when they have to it will always be the other guys fault!
Captain Kirk January 05, 2011 at 12:31 AM
So what's so bad about that? So what we have to pay through the nose we're getting something back for it. Just remind me what are we getting back?
Captain Kirk January 05, 2011 at 12:32 AM
Does it really make a difference who started it? Who is going to have the guts to get us out of it?
Corey Comerford January 15, 2011 at 12:32 PM
BOTTOM LINE IS THE CUTS HAVE TO BE MADE. WE ELECTED HIM FOR 4 YEARS TO CUT TAXES, AND HES TRYING TO MAKE THE TAX CUTS. LET HIM GET US BACK ON TRACK, SOUZZI STARTED CUTTING AND THEN STOPPED WHEN HE STARTED TO RUN FOR STATE OFFICE AND GAVE AWAY STORE FIGUREING HE WOULD BE RUNNING THE STATE AND IT WOULD BE SOMEONE ELSES PROBLEM. I SAY KEEP CUTTING TAXES MR. MANGANO THE RESIDENTS OF NASSAU COUNTY ARE BEHIND YOU.
Eddie January 15, 2011 at 09:52 PM
I can name 15 County departments off the top of my head that would be missed by nobody except their employees. Goodness, leave me with highways, parks and sewers and I'll do real well on my own with the money I save in taxes.
Jay January 15, 2011 at 10:45 PM
Nassau and Suffolk should merge. It's time to become one county.
Bob Rabey January 16, 2011 at 09:09 AM
Wow! I can see people are pretty passionate about this. Just a few observations if I may. Have prior administrations gotten us in financial trouble? Sure, there's no doubt of that. Can some county services be cut or eliminated? Absolutely. Still, with all that being said and pointed out, we're talking about pennies. Yes, pennies, when you take a close look at where most (46%) of our tax dollars are going. The schools are simply killing us in taxes. All these independent school districts, with there increased budgets each year, have a strangle hold around our necks! The remaining 14% of our tax dollars are divided up between the state,county,town and incorporated villages. All are under pressure to cut their budgets. But here's my point. If anyone of them trimmed their budgets to the max, just how much of a savings do you think you'd see, if you never addressed the schools big hands dipping into our pockets? If you want to "merge" or "consolidate" something......need I say it? Let's take a close look at the schools. 168 independent school districts on Long Island is ridiculous! One for Nassau, one for Suffolk. 168 down to TWO! Now that's savings.
Robert Demarco January 16, 2011 at 01:07 PM
Your comment is absolutely on target. these idiot politicians blab on about no tax increases, but the town and county portion of our property tax bill is virtually meaningless. As you state, the schiool districts need to be merged, the increases and benefits for teachers brought into the real world, and the system of tenure removed.
K January 16, 2011 at 01:46 PM
Definitely do something about the school taxes! They are completely out of line!
Captain Kirk January 16, 2011 at 05:22 PM
How about if the new county exec would have the guts to try to consolidate our school districts. He only will have to take on the teachers union,well paid superintendants, and all the school boards. Is he man enough? He's a good man but I don't think Superman could do it! Where's Spiderman when I need him!
Richard Boodman January 16, 2011 at 06:01 PM
Bankruptcy is the only answer. It will level the playing field. It will get rid of the unfunded mandates and the rest of the waste of taxpayers dollars. We can't rely on our elected officials to put taxpayers first. They cater to the special interests. They are the reason we are the 2nd highest taxed county. I wouldn't be surprised if some of them are smarting because we aren't #1.
packjack5 January 16, 2011 at 09:58 PM
Yup some type of consolidation of school districts should take place but how are people going to like it when your district is forced with a district you don't want? Property value is tied directly to your school district. I didn't move here to have a public school system like NYC. Wait for the stuff to hit the fan when let's say Garden City has to merge with Hempstead. Doesn't mean something shouldn't be done but it I think it's a lot easier said than done. Back office consolidation, salary caps, get rid of tenure.
Eddie January 16, 2011 at 10:54 PM
I fear consolidation of school districts because it takes your schools out of local control. Your property values are closely related to your schools' quality. As Long Beach voters continue to approve school budgets that grant increases in spending, the majority of voters must see no problem with the rising taxes. How 'bout an educated electorate saying NO to new school jobs, NO to huge capital boondoggles, NO to hundreds of new administrators? Until citizens vote their mind, they will get what bureaucrats want -- more programs, more employees and more taxes.
packjack5 January 16, 2011 at 11:37 PM
I agree with you Eddie. I want local but responsible control of our own school districts. Unfortunately most people are very uninformed about what goes on in their own districts and must be more involved. Most people don't even bother to vote during a school budget vote. Lotsa people say consolidate school districts but when their property value takes a huge hit (and they will), they will be screaming. Complicated problem. Not as easy as people think it is.
Eddie January 16, 2011 at 11:52 PM
I believe most of the problem lies with State and Federal mandates. In the past twenty years they seem to have required a 100% increase in professional positions. That's what I see. Single teachers being assigned to one "special needs" student. security guards hared to shadow a "troublesome" student. Ridiculous. Our Congress and Assembly are responsible. Before we criticize the salaries of some really dedicated professionals, which I feel are quite reasonable, we should look at how our legislators are mandating that our local funds be spent. I think the average taxpayer would be outraged. Benefit packages, patronage jobs and cost of living increases have always been hot button items, but the real costs come from the absurd mandates that are legislated upon us.
Bob Rabey January 17, 2011 at 10:06 AM
It would seem we're getting away from the point. Judging from your comments, I think we can all agree that school taxes are too high. Are there issues within the districts? Sure, but one problem at a time please. Our newly elected county executive is not the answer here. Our newly elected Govenor is. The issue lies with Mr. Cuomo. School consolidation. Two words that scare a lot of people. I'm not talking about merging the schools themselves, but rather merging all these seperate administrations. That's where the money is. Leave each school as it is for now. Leave the principle in charge for that school. Keep the same teachers, programs, and all the other associated activities the same. Property values will not be effected if we choose to only merge administrations. As PackJack5 pointed out, most people don't even bother to vote. Well Packjack, you are sort of correct. Most people choose not to get involved in the formulation of the budgets themselves. Ask yourself when is the last school budget hearing you attended? Now ask the same to your neighbors. Most will answer, "not lately" or "never", which is the real shame. Then once the budget is formulated, and placed up for a vote, the voting public sees the increase, and initially turns it down. But then the same old tactic is used over and over. They treaten our childrens education! This couldn't be further from the real truth. We're threatening these over paid administrators salaries!
Bob Rabey January 17, 2011 at 10:09 AM
As I stated above, the issue lies with the govenors office. Contact your state senator, let them know who you are, and demand that they address this issue immediately! Don't think your voice or vote makes a difference? Believe me, IT DOES!
Robert Demarco January 17, 2011 at 01:32 PM
There must be only one school budget vote. The second vote gives the schools the opportunity to see what they can get past the voters. One vote would insure their best shot. Of course, we would still have to filter out the rhetoric.
Richard Boodman January 18, 2011 at 08:19 PM
Bob Rabey's two comments are right on target. Merging seperate school admininstrations is a good start. But only if Cuomo folows the lead of New Jersey Governor Christie, will we have a fighting chance for lower taxes and a better education for the children . Tenure, pensions and State mandates have to be addressed in order to keep home values from dropping further. I have been to a few school board hearings. The majority of people there are teachers (sometimes wearing their blue propaganda T shirts), admistrators and PTA parents, all there to further their interests. The school board is weighted against the taxpayers because very few of us show any interest. Last May only 8% of registered voters participated and our taxes went up again. I heard a story that they pay a teacher $25 an hour to be a school lifeguard even though the beach lifeguard pay is $12 per hour. Our voices and votes do make a difference. The question is, how do we get our neighbors to understand that their property will be worth DIDDLEY if they don't get involved.
Captain Kirk January 18, 2011 at 10:51 PM
You guys will know better than me; what control do our local school boards have other then hiring highly paid superintendants? With the feds mandating programs, the state and board of Regents mandating the rest, what control does the local board have other than what color to paint the calssrooms and I'm sure that is regulated by some state or federal agency!
Bojames January 19, 2011 at 10:38 PM
Why are any of us paying the taxes of Clergy who own PRIVATE houses in Nassau( and state) Our taxes are not high enough? Repeal Real property Law 460 NOW. Ask the County Assessor to give you a list of all the houses in the school district with Clery Exemptions. Then call you state reps.
Craig March 24, 2011 at 06:11 PM
What is Souzzi to you? Yes this has been going on for 30 years But Souzzi is a better lier than Maragoes, He spent 16 Mil. on his office. Dance a lot, His dad had a lot to do with what he did. Spent mils on political favors, Tried to sell 101 county seat drive and did not even own it. RXR was paid millons for political Moneys. Girl get a grip........News 12 (Cablevision) buried all the bad, Newsday encluded. This man Souzzi was able to white wash everything with the help of his dad. When did you statre following Politces. Answer this... WHY was Souzzi allowed to do thing that Margano is not allow to do? Were you looking for a job? Souzzi will be back in the political game, just as soon as he can change hi s Image. I will never forget what he did. Other should remember too.

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