column – Tax Refunds and Precinct Closings

From the Desk of Legislator Delia DeRiggi-Whitton, Nassau County18th LD

 Revolting Plans

At the past two sessions of legislative committees, two major steps were taken by County Executive Mangano and Majority Leader Schmitt to show they have no respect for you, the people they are sworn to serve, or the governmental process by which they are supposed to serve you.

They have come into power through the idea of “tax revolt.” Unfortunately, while the easiest way to gain power was preying on the financial stress we all feel, the fact is they have no solid plan on how to run this county… except into the ground. And the only “revolting” I am seeing involves the way I would describe their behavior.

They won control by telling you they’d ease your financial situation. Instead, the plan is to create chaos and debt in Nassau that will decrease the value of your home, erode your public safety and continuously offer you less and less services without ever lowering your taxes. That plan is well underway.

Grieving Residents – Just Pay Their Tax Refunds, Mangano

Many residents have grieved their tax assessments, won, and are waiting for a check. But, instead of receiving their deserved tax refund in the mail, they simply got more to grieve about this week from Mangano. He spent your tax dollars to send out a mailing specifically meant to mislead residents into believing that county Democrats want to raise taxes 25 percent.

A senior citizen actually called my office crying after receiving Mangano’s propaganda. She said her husband works all the time and can’t retire and they can barely deal with their expenses now. A 25 percent tax increase would force them out of the home they love.

Well, no one ever proposed that tax increase but Mangano doesn’t respect you enough to tell the truth. He is still preying on your stress. The reality is that he made empty promises that he could run this county. He now has no sense of how to manage his budget without borrowing a tremendous amount of money, including borrowing $100 million to pay tax refunds. The problem is that he doesn’t have respect for legislators either. He didn’t give us any detail on how the $100 million would be spent when he asked us for permission to borrow it last week at a hearing.

Your names were not on any list we were given to vote on. We can’t borrow money without any information on where the money is going. For all we know, it will be focused on paying his law firm connections. That is where he has been focused on spending money right now as many other parties wait for what is owed them.

The worst part of this is that Mangano has millions sitting in the bank. He should pay homeowners right now instead of sending them false letters and pushing for more debt.

Ask the county executive how paying interest on a $100 million loan won’t affect your taxes. But more importantly, tell him to pay you your refund right now and stop stalling with ugly scare tactics.

Criminal Scheming – Police Precincts

More bad behavior and disrespect was seen this Monday at a hearing on police precinct changes. Hundreds of concerned residents gathered to share input and ask questions. Instead of allowing these taxpayers to speak about the police service they pay for, Majority Leader Schmitt’s controlling caucus decided to force a long process of speeches and questions before public comment. This made taxpayers wait hours to speak. Many, including one retired police officer from Sea Cliff that I know of, had to leave after the fourth hour of waiting.

Finally, around 6 p.m., at a hearing process that began 7 hours earlier, I personally got I to question the county executive’s representatives and the new acting police commissioner during our Finance Committee hearing. Unfortunately, they did not present the Finance Committee with a single piece of financial analysis on how the plan would save money. Not one sheet of paper.

Even worse, throughout the news media and at meetings, they have been saying the new plan would save “up to 20 million a year.” Well, it turns out, they testified, that their best number is more around $17 million. After all this time saying $20 million (including the previous 7 hours at the hearing), they brought it down to $17 million once we questioned him.

And that was before it was explained that is the best-case scenario. If they can’t execute their plans perfectly – (they never have before) – they calculate their savings will be more like $11 million a year. And either number, they told me, doesn’t take into account the overtime pay that will come from officers processing arrests in now overcrowded precincts when they double these buildings up. They also aren’t accounting for the construction costs from rebuilding the precincts to handle so much more traffic.

Forgetting for now those extra costs, even if they could save this $17 million – an independent, non-partisan Office of Legislative Budget Review testified to us – the savings would be $34 per household. If it goes all the way down to the lower projection of $11 million saved, that $34 would be almost nothing at all.

All this turmoil has been to save $20 to $30 a year? There is nothing else to cut in the budget to save $20 a year? They will jeopardize public safety, set us up for total chaos for that?

The value of many homes could be lower as a result of this. Lower than the amount they are saving you in taxes. As I said, they are not lowering your taxes… just your quality of life.

 

 

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3 Comments on “column – Tax Refunds and Precinct Closings”

  1. Brian Sujka
    February 23, 2012 at 7:27 pm #

    Thank you! Now can you send this article to all the media outlets?

  2. Joe Nocella
    February 24, 2012 at 3:31 pm #

    Dennis Dunne, Chairman of the Public Safety Committee, employed several hours of stall tactics in order to discourage the public from speaking on this matter. While some people did leave, thankfully enough of them stayed to voice their displeasure with both his behavior and this plan. After the residents said their piece, there was not a single person who spoke in favor of closing police precincts, yet Dennis Dunne, Norma Gonsalves, Joe Belesi, Denise Ford, Howard Kopel, Vincent Muscarella, Rich Nicolello, Peter Schmitt, and Rose Walker completely disregarded their opposition and voted for the closures.

    Legislator DeRiggi-Whitton did a fantastic job of exposing this plan for what it really is, and she did it in a matter of 30 seconds. As she said in her article, after seven hours of testimony, she asked the Office of Independent Budget Review one simple question … Lets say this plan saves what the County Executive says it will, what does that translate into per household. The answer is $34. The cost of keeping all eight of our police precincts open is a whopping $34 per household. And that is the best case scenario! But Mangano will never tell you that. That would expose his plan for the sham it really is.

    God forbid this plan gets voted through. If it does, we will have two years to educate the public so they understand the Nassau GOP cares about one thing, and one thing only … themselves.

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