March 12, 2013 | 560 views
Maragos, Weitzman see finances differently
Nassau Comptroller George Maragos and his predecessor Howard Weitzman disagree about the financial state of the county. In separate phone interviews with the Herald, Maragos, a Republican, and Weitzman, a Democrat who served when Thomas Suozzi was the county executive, defended their respective terms of service and each took subtle jabs at the other’s decisions while in office.
According to Weitzman, the county has exhausted its reserves and has faced a $45 million deficit since 2011. One day after speaking at an Elmont East End Civic Association meeting about county finances on March 5, Weitzman said via phone that the county’s financial state has been in a downward spiral since 2009.
“Unpaid tax refunds have ballooned from $130 million when I left office [in 2009] to $400 million,” said Weitzman. “The county has been consistently downgraded by the rating agencies, with more to come due to the negative outlook.”
Weitzman said that County Executive Edward Mangano’s three-pronged financial plan has left Nassau in dire straits. According to Weitzman, the plan, based on shifting the burden of school tax refunds onto school taxpayers, selling the county sewer system and freezing wages and benefits of county employees indefinitely, has failed to create any discernable revenue.
“The county received so much money from FEMA to fix the sewer system, whose sale is no longer feasible,” said Weitzman. “Wage freeze has been ruled illegal in court [and so has] transferring the liability of school tax refunds to school taxpayers. There’s a need to be honest with taxpayers, which has been lacking, and the county should start public discussions on what services it should maintain.”
Elmont East End Civic Association president Patrick Nicolosi agreed with Weitzman’s views.