October 30, 2008

Republican Delegation Proposed Amendments to
County Executive’s 2009 Budget
Voted “NO” to a Property Tax Increase

Nassau County Legislator Dennis Dunne, Sr., and the Republican Delegation of the Nassau County Legislature called on Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi to trim his $3.1 Billion proposed 2009 Budget.  The Republican legislators wanted to eliminate his proposed 3.9% property tax increase, make good on promises to add detectives to fight the surging heroin and gang problems, and to maintain funding for vital youth programs. 

Times are tough in Nassau County, and Republican Legislators have been warning Suozzi for years that the county spending was too excessive.  The current downturn in the economy has only exasperated a desperate situation.

The County Executive’s proposed 2009 budget amounts to $3.1 Billion and includes a 3.9% property tax increase.  Legislator Dunne and the Republican Delegation had introduced amendments to the budget which would eliminate the property tax increase, restore funding for projects and programs, and prevent needless security risks created by the proposed mergers of county and police department functions.  The Majority on the legislature voted down the proposed amendments.    

Legislator Dunne challenged the County Executive to administer a 5% cut in the county’s salary expenditures.  “I proposed to cut the legislative budget by 5% and there is no reason this cannot be done county-wide,” said Dunne.  Salary cuts can be made by eliminating “vacant-but-funded” positions which have become a staple in Suozzi budgets. 

“There’s not another bail out in sight for Nassau County.  Now is the time to take action to cut current spending.  Now is not the time to raise taxes for anybody.  It is regrettable that our County Executive’s first instinct in a budget crisis is to raise taxes,” said Dunne.  A 5% cut in county-wide department spending will add up to $22 million in savings.

The Republican’s proposed amendments would have resulted in a total savings of over $38 million and, most importantly, eliminated Suozzi’s 3.9% property tax increase (which is reported to generate $31.5 million in revenue.)  “I think our suggestions were thoughtful and fair,” said Dunne.  The added savings in the Republican’s plan would be put in a Contingency account to help reduce next year’s budget burden.  “It is unfortunate that the County Executive’s 19.4% tax increase in 2002 and $105 million gift from New York State have been squandered.  Over the past six years, spending has increased over $700 million.”