Curran to sue over budget changes

Curran to sue over budget changes
Nassau County Executive Laura Curran

A plan by the Nassau County Legislature to reopen the 6th Police Precinct — part of a plan that would add $1.6 million to the county budget — was met with a legal rebuke this week by County Executive Laura Curran. On Monday, she said she would sue the Legislature to reverse the measure.

The Legislature passed a budget without public notice of legislative spending increases as required under the county charter,” Curran said in a statement. “When advised, on the record, by the county attorney that the Legislature did not meet the basic requirements of transparency, the Presiding Officer [Rich Nicolello (R-New Hyde Park)] said, ‘Sue us.’ That is the opposite of transparency.”

The lawsuit is the latest chapter in the battle to reopen the 6th Precinct, which was consolidated into the 3rd Precinct in 2012. Combined as a cost-saving move, the loss of the 6th Precinct has led to an outcry from residents and local politicians over the last six years. But Nassau County, continuing to operate under the Nassau Interim Finance Authority, has not been able to find money for it.

Curran did not include funding to reopen the precinct in her $3.075 billion budget. Last week, the Nassau Legislature voted unanimously to reopen the 6th and 8th precincts and included funding to begin the process.

Nicolello noted that Curran supported reopening the 6th Precinct when she was a candidate for county executive last fall and called the NIFA control period “irrelevant.”

“The expenditure for partial reopening of both precincts is $1.6 million out of a $3 billion budget,” he said after the Legislature approved the reopening.

Curran was quick to criticize the move.

“Opening these precincts, it sounds to me like an empty gesture,” Curran said last week. “Not only are we in a control period, we do not have enough detectives for actual squads.”

The legislators also passed an amendment last week that increased the sales tax estimate. Curran said that the Legislature was not allowed to change revenues.

“If this is how the [former County Executive Ed] Mangano Administration and the GOP-majority Legislature approved their budgets, then I can unequivocally say that is not the standard I will use,” Curran said. “We want full public disclosure and transparency. The public and the press are entitled to advance information on the actions contemplated by the legislature when it comes to spending taxpayer dollars.”

During a meeting with County Attorney Jared Kasscau, Nicolello said that the Legislature could adopt the changes — which also included funding for new contracts with the county’s five major labor unions, along with more bus routes and staffing in minority communities — under an emergency resolution.

In a statement, Nicolello called the lawsuit “a colossal waste of taxpayer money.” Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport) said that the amendments were passed “properly and legally,” according to a report in Newsday.

Reach reporter Luke Torrance by email at [email protected], by phone at 516-307-1045, ext. 214, or follow him on Twitter @LukeATorrance.

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