This morning we were invited to Adelphi University’s beautiful Garden City campus to hear Ed Mangano speak about the current issues facing Nassau County. Our meeting was opened by Dr. Robert Scott, Adelphi’s President, who proudly noted the latest energy efficient LEED certified buildings across the campus on the other side of Long Island’s largest geothermal plant. The plant is hidden by an ample parking lot, which will come in handy as the University hosts the 2011 NCAA Division II and III Women’s Lacrosse championships this May.
This meeting was sponsored by LIFT, whose Executive Director, Bill Whalig, gave us a quick update on the progress on the various programs offered by LIFT, its cooperation with Brookhaven National Labs and Stony Brook University. He also brought us current on the progress of the Advanced Material and Manufacturing Technology Innovation Center and the Morrelly Homeland Security Center, an important piece of our speaker’s revival of the Grumman property in his hometown of Bethpage.
Confronting the recent headlines regarding NIFA’s takeover, Mr. Mangano opened with a review of the progress that his administration has made in its first year. He identified the tax assessment process and their systems as a key factor in the financial difficulties that have built up over the past decade. This has resulted in a large amount of borrowing necessary to fund the system developments, fixes and the resulting tax refunds. His team is implementing a plan to get the system back on track where after 2013, property tax refunds will be funded out of operating revenues rather than being borrowed.
In preparation for this, the Executive recommended that all property owners review their assessments, because these assessments are provisional right now, but will be made permanent in 2016.
Moving on to current events, Mr. Mangano defended his repeal of the energy tax, and his balancing of the budget, noting that 2010 will go into the books has having a surplus. Spending was cut, and 610 jobs were shed. The budget surplus was accomplished without increasing taxes, and while more unfunded state mandates were handed down, along with increased pension obligations. He characterized NIFA’s “drumbeat of doubt” as misplaced.
Further outlining accomplishments, he cited the return of 125 police officers to street patrol through attrition and having civilians fill the administrative positions that were vacated, reducing expenses and pension obligations. He has opened negotiations with the CSEA union to review their contract. He views NIFA’s intervention as adding uncertainty to the contract renegotiation process and increasing taxpayer expenses by adding a layer of review to several layers already in place that are serving adequately.
He asserts that NIFA is sounding the alarm unnecessarily, especially when ending the year with a surplus. NIFA’s proposed solutions amount to tax increases, and he has not heard any NIFA recommendations on expense reductions. In closing, he reiterated that keeping spending flat when stuck with onerous contracts and unfunded mandates is a herculean task. However, he has emphasized that the public employees of Nassau County are working as hard as their private sector counterparts to maintain the level of services that they have come to expect of the county.
Once again it was another opportunity to be at LIMBA meeting with an excellent speaker that you normally can only assess when filtered through the media. Amiable and poised during a stressful point in his administration, it was a pleasure to host the County Executive in a fine setting provided by one of Long Island’s premier academic institutions. Please join us for these Friday morning sessions that finish the work week off on a high note and never fail to be of value.