In Nassau County, the best is yet to be
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These are the reasons Mangano won his second election by 18 percentage points. In government, it’s rare to find an elected official who puts people ahead of politics, but he put the people of Nassau County first.
The county still faces many challenges. Like many other municipalities, it is still plagued by fiscal, labor and management issues that threaten the economic future of our communities. The most important issue at hand is NIFA and its control over the county’s finances.
However, thanks to pressure from Mangano, Cuomo has wisely rearranged NIFA’s board, making former North Hempstead Supervisor Jon Kaiman its chairman. This move should ease the stalemate between Mangano and the board, hopefully leading to more communication and action to cut the county’s deficit.
The second issue is the county work force. In March 2011, Mangano imposed a wage freeze, one that NIFA approved, calling it “essential.” Now, nearly three years later, labor leaders are getting restless.
Nassau’s five labor unions have all reached separate agreements with Mangano, but they must realize that when new contracts come up, the county can no longer afford business as usual. Workers are going to have to contribute to their own health plans, and should be required to make contributions to their pensions.
Additional work rules will also have to be changed, starting with the exclusion of overtime hours from pensions. Currently, in the final years of employment, government workers drive up overtime hours in order to drive up their pension payouts. The taxpayers are left footing the bill, paying the inflated pension costs, which in turn increase property taxes. This should be an immediate statewide reform, as there is severe abuse.
Mangano must also tackle the county’s broken tax assessment system, which has added $100 million in annual debt. He has frozen tax rolls at 2010 levels, and has encouraged homeowners to appeal their assessments in order to settle cases quickly. He planned to reassess county properties last year, but was delayed in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.