Nassau’s majority Republican lawmakers on Monday approved a $ 100 million cut in expected county revenue from real estate and red light camera fees as part of their amendments to County Executive Laura Curran’s proposed budget for 2022.
The vote was 11-8 with the entire Republican meeting for and all Democrats against.
The Republican changes to Curran’s budget depend on robust estimates of county revenue tax revenue, which account for about 40% of the county’s total revenue.
Democrats voted against the amendments and the proposal to put the amendments to the vote.
Curran, a Democrat, last month proposed a $ 3.5 billion spending plan that includes a $ 70 million property tax cut. She has ten days to veto the Republican changes.
A legislative super-majority of 13 votes would be needed to override any veto by the county administration.
“The legislative majority today continued their fiery efforts to prevent and delay action using the same political games that made our county bankrupt during [former Republican County Executive] Ed Mangano, “Curran spokesman Jordan Carmon said in a statement.
“The county governor thanks the legislative minority for voting against the changes the GOP majority is using to throw the county’s budget into a fiscal chaos.”
The administration did not immediately say whether Curran would veto the change.
Curran and 18 of 19 lawmakers are running for re-election on Nov. 2.
The GOP changes would lower taxes by an additional $ 50 million, bringing the total property tax cut to $ 120 million; removing fees imposed under Mangano, including the red light public security fee and tax card verification fee, and reducing the mortgage fee, costing the county $ 100 million in revenue and eliminating seven members of Curran’s PR staff, saving county $ 1.1 million.
“The county is overtaxing its residents. It’s time to return the money to the residents,” said Chairman Rich Nicolello (R-New Hyde Park) in his introductory remarks. “The middle class leaves the county. Our elders leave the county. The working class leaves the county,”
Nicolello called Curran’s VAT forecast “ridiculous” and her plan “over budgeting and over taxation.”
The county collected $ 999.7 million in VAT from June 1 to August 31, 2021, according to a note to Republican lawmakers on October 12. Sales tax revenue was $ 207.5 million or 26.2% above revenue for the same period last year, the memo said.
Minority leader Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport) said his assembly supported the Curran budget and called the changes by the Republican majority “tax irresponsible and ruthless.”
He said Democrats are still awaiting a statement from NIFA, the county’s financial control board, which is expected later this week. Abrahams said he believed Curran “has proposed a well-thought-out, balanced budget that has provided significant tax breaks for those residents who have been hit hard by the pandemic.”
Abrahams pointed out last year’s county budget dependent on 34.8% in VAT revenue, which Curran rose to an estimated 42% this year. He noted that the Republican majority’s amendments have a 44% percent dependence on sales taxes.
“I have not seen anyone quantify these VAT numbers – no one,” Abrahams said, later calling the changes “too dependent on fiscal shenanigans and risky, inflated sales tax projections.”
Legis. John Ferretti (R-Levittown) recalled in the call for support for the changes the Democrats that they had been fighting for years against real estate and public security fees.
“You have a chance to get rid of those fees. If you do not take it, it is your fees,” Ferretti said.
Last September, amid uncertainty over the pandemic, Curran proposed a $ 3.3 million budget that estimated a 20% drop in sales tax. In March 2021, an unaudited report from the county Office of Management and Budget showed that tax revenue fell by 8% and the county ended the fiscal year 2020 with a profit of $ 75 million. Republicans at the time had expected a 12% drop in sales tax.
In May, the county received the first half of $ 385 million in federal pandemic assistance, of which $ 100 million allocated the Curran administration to direct payments of $ 375 to residents up to $ 500,000.
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