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Friday, April 25, 2014

The lessons we learn from those we've lost
(Page 2 of 2)
Nassau County has $3 billion in debt, the most of any county in the state. Lastly and most recently, Mangano announced a plan to allow a private investor to buy $20 million in debt created by tax refunds. The arrangement would allow RPTF LLC, a Uniondale company, to pay the tax refunds and interest of 18,000 homeowners. The interest on these refunds can reach 12 percent, whereas in the deal the county is making with RPTF, it would pay those homeowners 5.95 percent over seven years.

So should we rejoice that the county would advance a plan to pay taxpayers their property tax refunds? While this may not be the best deal for county taxpayers, unfortunately, it’s the best deal given the circumstances. It stems from the refusal by Democratic legislators to allow the county to issue bonds in order to pay property tax refunds. Instead of paying only 2.5 percent on the unpaid amount, the county will now be forced to pay more than twice that.

Mangano has his back against the wall and is doing his best. When the previous administration was in charge, Nassau’s Republican legislators crossed party lines and supported Democratic borrowing bills so the county wouldn’t go under. Now that the roles are reversed, instead of helping the county, the Democrats have put their agenda first, trapping Mangano in a poor deal that affects his ability to slash the deficit.

This all comes at a time when the local economy is increasingly vulnerable. The National Hockey League began a lockout this month. Until further notice, the New York Islanders will not be hosting games and, according to reports by economic consultants, this could cost the local economy $60 million if the season does not go on.

Friends, this is bad news for an economy that is already struggling.

We are less than six weeks away from Election Day. In the meantime, something has to give. Over the years, I learned many things from my friend Larry Elovich. I urge our local policymakers to take a page from the Elovich playbook. Put politics aside and do what’s right.

Al D’Amato, a former U.S. senator from New York, is the founder of Park Strategies LLC, a public policy and business development firm. Comments about this column? ADAmato@liherald.com.

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