Nassau lawmakers shelve vote on controversial fee

The Nassau Legislature on Monday approved a county budget that contains a major budget hole after lawmakers shelved a vote on a controversial fee hike.

The proposed public safety fee would have tacked an additional $105 onto all parking and traffic tickets issued in the county, meaning red-light camera ticket penalties would have spiked from $95 to $200. County Executive Ed Mangano put forth the proposal last month and said it would raise $64 million for the cash-strapped county.

In the 11th hour, the Legislature opted to vote on the budget without the controversial hike, but that leaves a budget hole that Democratic lawmakers put at $77 million.

Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams argues the Republican majority passed through a budget that is "flawed from day one" and in violation of the county charter.

County Comptroller George Maragos, who recently changed his party to Democrat and announced his candidacy for county executive, told lawmakers today that the county can make up the lost dollars by reducing spending by 2.5 percent in all county departments.

But some legislators like Republican Richard Nicolello question why Maragos waited until the day before the budget was due to make alternative suggestions on how to cut costs.

"We are going to look at every opportunity to take down that $105 fee, taking additional time to do that. It would have been nice to have the comptroller's comments a month ago, but he gave it to us on the eve of our vote," Nicolello says.

Maragos told News 12 that he has given legislators a long list of suggestions all along.

The approved budget now goes to NIFA, the county's fiscal watchdog, which will have 10 days to review it. NIFA will then send it back to lawmakers who will take another month or so to review it and come up with solutions to address the shortfall.

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