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Saturday, April 19, 2014
Maragos, Weitzman see finances differently
(Page 2 of 3)
County Comptroller George Maragos, left, and his predecessor, Howard Weitzman, have different views about the county’s financial state.

“Nassau County is not doing well,” said Nicolosi via e-mail. “The assessment is still broken, fees have increased, people young and old are still leaving. Our roads are in bad shape, good paying jobs are hard to find. Nassau County used to be the place you wanted to raise a family and live. Today, most people are looking to leave. Most of our government in Nassau County is family owned and operated. There are so many problems that need a real leader with new ideas and solutions. Patronage, nepotism and so many taxing districts are destroying Nassau County. People also need to understand that fees are worse than taxes. You can deduct taxes on your tax returns, you can’t deduct fees — not good.”

Maragos took exception to Weitzman’s comments and said that the mess Weitzman left behind when Suozzi was county executive has been drastically improved.

“He [Weitzman]’s wrong on all accounts,” said Maragos when told of Weitzman’s remarks. “The reality is that Nassau County has an ‘A+’ rating and fundamental fiscals of borrowing have been reduced by 50 percent because we’re only borrowing for capital projects and not for operating expenses.

Maragos emphasized that dealing with the fallout of Weitzman’s financial decisions has not been easy. He justified the deal for sewers that Weitzman referred to as unsellable and clarified the wage freeze.

“The debt of $250 million [when I took office] has been reduced to $35 million. The county has not raised property taxes for three consecutive years. During the Suozzi administration, there was a multiyear plan of an annual 3.9 percent increase in property taxes—there’s been a 0 percent increase in the Mangano administration. Five years ago, Suozzi and Weitzman had $4 million to spend and they wasted that. They almost bankrupted the county and left us with only $60 million but we have maintained it. The county is in a much stronger position now. NIFA imposed the wage freeze in 2008, not the county executive. [The county executive] does not have state authority — NIFA does. The sewer deal was never contemplated to bring in revenue. Similar to Long Island Bus and MTA, the whole point was to provide better service at a lower cost.”

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