Mon, 07 Feb 2011

Dems urge Mangano to drop NIFA suit

Dems urge Mangano to drop NIFA suit

Nassau Democrats demanded Monday that Republican County Executive Edward Mangano drop his lawsuit seeking to block the takeover of the county budget by the Nassau Interim Finance Authority and cooperate with the state agency.

Citing results of a Newsday/News 12/Siena Research Institute poll, Legis. Kevan Abrahams (D-Hempstead) said, "Like it or not, NIFA is here. Prolonged litigation, which I believe will be unsuccessful, can only drive confidence in Nassau County to a new low."

The Democrats noted that the poll found that 77 percent of registered voters wanted Mangano to work with NIFA to solve fiscal problems, while 15 percent supported his decision to sue.

MORE: Complete coverage: NIFA & Nassau

VIDEOS: NIFA suspends wage hikes | Mangano plans layoffs

The lawsuit is pending and oral arguments are scheduled for Feb. 18.

Minutes after the Democrats' news conference ended, the Republican presiding officer of the legislature, Peter Schmitt of Massapequa, issued a rebuttal.

He said the response to the pollsters would have been different if they had asked whether people wanted NIFA and Mangano to find solutions that might include a property tax increase. If the question had been posed that way, Schmitt said, "I guarantee you 77 percent would not say 'Yes.' "

Mangano later released a statement in which he did not directly address the Democratic demand, but once again alleged that NIFA had a hidden agenda of trying to make him raise property taxes to balance the budget.

"NIFA has said time and again that they are interested in higher revenue," the Mangano statement said. "Where I come from, higher revenue is a code name for higher property taxes."

NIFA did not respond to an e-mail and telephone call for comment Monday. Several NIFA members have said the board cannot increase taxes or direct the county executive to do so.

Mangano aides confirmed Monday that the county planned to seek reimbursement from the state for any costs associated with the takeover, such as the cost of the outside law firm and accounting firm hired by NIFA, which is funded by the county.

Newsday filed a Freedom of Information Law request with NIFA on Feb. 1 asking for details about the costs involved in the takeover. NIFA general counsel Jeremy Wise e-mailed Newsday Monday to confirm receipt of the FOIL request.

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