Cecilia DowdOct 30, 2017, 6:29 pmOct 30, 2017, 6:30 pm

Nassau legislature’s 2018 budget would eliminate $60M in fee increases

The Republican version of the bill was used after both sides of the political aisle filed separate bills to nix the increases

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MINEOLA — Days before Election Day, Nassau County lawmakers approve the county's 2018 budget with county Republicans amendments on Monday.

This version of the budget will eliminate the $60 million in fee increases initially proposed by County Executive Edward Mangano

“We passed a budget that is achievable, we accomplished what the public asked us to accomplish regarding the fees and we did just that," Legislator Norma Gonsalves said.

Mangano's over $2 billion budget anticipated raising revenue by increasing the $55 surcharge on traffic tickets and raising another $25 million through a pair of residential real estate fee hikes.

Nassau County Democrats and Republicans filed separate bills to eliminate the fee increases, but the Democrats version was shot down.

During Monday's meeting, lawmakers on both sides said they agreed on 95 percent of the amendments being discussed, except for one. Kevan Abrahams, the minority leader, pushed to add an independent inspector general to the Republicans version of the proposed budget.

"Especially when there is 95 percent agreement on the rest of the amendments and how we fund them, I can't believe we are going to put our heads in the sand and not do anything," Abrahams said.

But Republicans said no to the Democrats request, stating that adding an independent inspector general is a policy issue and doesn’t address the budget problems.

"The question becomes taking someone who is independent, you give someone a contract, that person has nobody to he or she has to report, they do what they want," Legislator Howard Kopel said.

To make up for the removed $60 million in fee increases, Republicans want to restructure county debt, increase growth of estimated sales tax and cut police overtime. The presiding officer says bond premiums would be a contingency regarding what Nassau Interim Finance Authority would do.

"Police budget, they feel it is achievable, and we have a number of positions not being filled, unfunded positions will add to it,” Gonsalves said.

Ahead of the Nassau County Legislature's budget vote, the Reclaim New York initiative called for legislators to remove, what they say is, $59 million in proposed increases in illegal, revenue-raising fees from the budget.

Now the proposed budget will be sent to the Nassau County executive for a decision. If he chooses to veto the bill, then it goes back to the legislature who will then need 13 votes to override his veto. NIFA could also implement their own cuts to the budget.

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