(Long Island NY) Both Nassau and Suffolk Executives discussed their proposed 2013 county budgets this week, with both touting their effectiveness in terms of keeping escalating property tax hikes under control while retaining essential county services.
Nassau County Executive Edward P. Mangano delivered to the Legislature a No-Property Tax Increase Budget that reduces spending and continues to deliver services for the people of Nassau. Mangano and the Republican Legislative Caucus have cut over $290 million in spending from Nassau’s budget. Since 2009, Mangano has tried to tackle Nassau’s budget woes with less spending, fewer employees, and fewer appointees.
“This budget protects families and seniors while also paving the way for continued economic growth by holding the line on property taxes for a third year in a row and by restricting spending so that we never return to the poor fiscal policies of the past,” he said. “After two hard years of shared sacrifice, Nassau County is on a firm, stable path because of the tough and difficult choices we’ve made to cut spending and implement successful public-private partnerships. The progress we have made over the past two years ensures we never return to the days in which Nassau taxed too high, spent too much and reformed too little.”
Without raising property taxes, County Executive Mangano has addressed a $311 million deficit inherited from the prior administration and kept pace with double-digit increases in pension and health care costs, unfunded mandates, a stagnant economy and poor municipal practices.
However, critics of Managno’s budget cite factors such as massive cuts to county-funded community, youth, and drug counseling services as harmful by-products of his heavy-handed approach to cure Nassau’s significant budget issues.
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone announced his Recommended Budget for fiscal 2013 which he claims is balanced, is under the NYS property tax cap, reigns in spending, freezes general fund taxes and does not contain any new layoffs. Bellone’s first County wide operating budget comes just six months after County lawmakers received a report stating that Suffolk County faced a projected three-year budget shortfall of approximately $530 million and learned from Comptroller Joseph Sawicki that the 2011 deficit was approximately $60 million.
County Executive Bellone noted that the foundation of this balanced budget was built on the difficult decisions made in conjunction with the Legislature, including reducing the size of the County workforce by 658 employees in 2012 and the recent decisions to sell the John J. Foley Skilled Nursing Facility and surplus land in Yaphank. Bellone noted that for the County to return to fiscal stability, it will be necessary to continue to hold the line on spending, which is why his recommended budget increases spending by less than one percent, despite huge increases in health care, pension costs and mandates.
“Six months ago, we faced a half a billion dollar deficit, today we are offering a balanced budget under the New York State tax cap,” Bellone said. “While we are making the tough choices to address the problems that have accumulated over the years, we must remain vigilant. My proposed 2013 budget is balanced, holds property taxes under the New York State tax cap includes no general fund tax increase and will not lay off any additional employees. Despite rising mandated costs, we will hold spending increases below one percent by making government more efficient and continuing the work of streamlining departments. I look forward to working with the Suffolk County Legislature to enact this fiscally responsible budget.”
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