Fri, 29 Oct 2010

Abrahams critical of County Budget - Newsday

Nassau lawmakers to vote on Mangano's proposed $2.6B budget
Originally published: October 29, 2010 12:23 PM
Updated: October 29, 2010 12:41 PM

The politically divided Nassau County Legislature kicked off a public hearing Friday on the proposed $2.6-billion county budget with an argument over seating for the overflow crowd.

The legislative hearing room in Mineola was filled to its fire-code limit of 251 people who came to express or listen to concerns about property taxes, the future of Long Island Bus, county borrowing, new fees and a score of other budget matters. Other people milled around in an anteroom, and some people left in disgust without getting in.

Legis. Kevan Abrahams, a Hempstead Democrat, criticized the Republican majority for failing to allow for the overflow crowd. The Republican presiding officer, Legis. Peter Schmitt of Massapequa, said he had already taken steps to ensure public access, and the Democrats had done nothing about crowd control when they were in power.

"At 10:15 on the morning of the hearing is not the time to discuss how we fix the system. We're not trying to keep anyone out," Schmitt said as he and Abrahams each took turns cutting off the other.

Schmitt had indicated there would be a vote on the budget by the end of the day, and sources said a deal was in the works that would reduce the amount of borrowing proposed by County Executive Edward Mangano for property tax refunds.

Aides to Mangano and the leader of the Democratic minority in the legislature, Diane Yatauro of Glen Cove, confirmed that such talks were occurring, but refused to discuss details.

Representatives of many school boards turned out to protest Mangano's plan to have school districts, towns and other local tax jurisdictions pay their share of property tax refunds - currently a $80-million annual liability to the county, which does the assessments.

About 20 people demonstrated in support of Mangano's property tax plan on the front steps of the buildings.

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