Island Vote 2013: Nassau County executive race focuses on taxes

Both Nassau County executive candidates are blaming each other for dramatic spikes in debt during their terms.

Both Nassau County executive candidates are blaming each other for dramatic spikes in debt during their terms. (10/29/13)

WOODBURY - Both Nassau County executive candidates are blaming each other for dramatic spikes in debt during their terms.

Democrat Tom Suozzi served two terms as county executive. In 2003, he oversaw a 19 percent increase in county taxes, which amounted to about $18 per month for the average Nassau homeowner. In 2008, he signed a 4 percent property tax increase and a home energy tax on heating oil and gas.

Suozzi defends those increases, saying county finances were in terrible shape when he took office after years of Republican rule. He also says that the county's finances on his watch were much better than they are under Mangano.

State watchdog agency NIFA has criticized incumbent Mangano for relying too much on borrowing to balance the budget.

Mangano defends the four budgets he has put together, all of which either held the line or cut property taxes.

The county executive's critics say he hasn't increased property taxes, but he has hiked fees. Last year, contractors were hit with a new $500 licensing fee, and costs for things like swimming lessons at county parks were raised.

With just a week until Election Day, experts say they don't expect the two candidates to talk much about other issues in the campaign, such as affordable housing, the environment or development of the Nassau hub.

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