County Legislature passes budget, GOP-backed amendments

County Legislature passes budget, GOP-backed amendments
Presiding Officer Rich Nicolello (R-New Hyde Park) called on County Executive Laura Curran to approve the tentative $3.5 billion budget along with Republican-backed amendments to it. (Photo courtesy of the legislative majority)

The Nassau County Legislature passed a $3.5 billion budget and several amendments proposed by Republican officials on Monday.

All 11 Republican members, who make up the majority, voted in favor of the budget along with amendments that call for eliminating various fees and cut taxes by an additional $50 million. The eight members of the minority caucus abstained from voting, according to a news release.

Presiding Officer Richard Nicolello (R-New Hyde Park) urged County Executive Laura Curran, a Democrat, to approve the budget and the amendments to ease the stress on taxpayers’ wallets.

“The Budget passed today included amendments made by the Republican Majority that will cut taxes, eliminate fees, and provide much needed lasting financial relief for working class Nassau County residents,” Nicolello said in a statement. “I urge the County Executive to accept the budget as amended, to help working class families, seniors, and others who are struggling to afford to live in Nassau.”

County officials said Curran has seven days to approve or veto the budget and the amendments. If she vetoes the amendments, 13 votes would be required to override.

According to Curran, the $3.5 billion budget she proposed will cut property taxes by $70 million next year. Majority officials proposed to have Curran’s budget reduce taxes by an additional $50 million to make it a total of $120 million. Curran said surplus funds in the 2019 budget ($145 million) and the 2020 budget ($128 million) will allow the county to cut taxes in 2022.

County officials said the $128 million in surplus funds from the 2020 budget will be used to “grow depleted reserves” for whenever the county experiences the “next downturn.” Officials also said the budget remains balanced without the expectation of further funds from the American Rescue Plan, despite Curran’s seeking them.

The amendments would eliminate the $350 tax map verification fee and the $55 public safety fee as well as reduce the $300 recording fee to $50. Republican legislators also called for the elimination of $1.1 million for seven of Curran’s public relations employees and other political patronage positions. Officials also called for the establishment of a countywide rodent extermination program.

Efforts to reach a representative from the Curran administration for comment were unavailing. Last week county spokesman Michael Fricchione said Curran’s budget proposal takes taxpayers’ financial situation into consideration.

“County Executive Curran proposed a thoughtful, balanced budget that delivers significant tax relief to every resident hard-hit by the pandemic, not the same old political talking points based on made-up revenue projections that the Majority and Ed Mangano used to drive our County’s finances into the ground,” Fricchione said in an email to Blank Slate Media.

The budget also features an overall spending increase of $200 million from the $3.3 billion 2021 budget. The increase includes an additional $45 million allocated to public safety investments, Curran said.

Some of the expenditures Curran planned include costs to implement the Police Department’s body camera program, funding for future collective bargaining agreements and wage increases, two police classes and two corrections classes for newly sworn officers.

Curran said the proposal also calls for 70 new positions in the department. If approved, it would be the first time the department expanded the number of sworn officers in more than a decade.

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