A war of words -- and websites -- between County Executive Ed Mangano and Democratic nominee Tom Suozzi’s campaigns heated up this week.
As November’s election creeps closer, Suozzi -- who launched the website edmanganosdebt.com earlier this week -- has called the finances under the Mangano Administration into question, including what Suozzi says is more than $2 billion in borrowing.
Suozzi said Tuesday that Nassau’s long-term debt has increased by $566 million under Mangano and now stands at a record $3.5 billion.
The Democratic candidate continued to tout his own accolades as former county executive from 2002-09, when his campaign said he “reduced Nassau’s debt by $255 million and verified surpluses on all eight of his budgets.
But Mangano’s administration has said that Suozzi’s accusations are unfounded.
Deputy County Executive of Finance Tim Sullivan said the county’s outstanding debt at the beginning of Suozzi’s election was $2.76 billion, while at the end of Suozzi’s reign in 2009 it was $3.03 billion. He added that the number of $3.03 billion has not changed during Mangano’s time in office.
Sullivan also said that Suozzi is miscounting some of Mangano’s numbers, making any borrowing look higher than it actually is.
One such miscount took place with $192 million in borrowing authorized by the Nassau Legislature for Sandy relief. Sullivan said that Suozzi’s office double counted the amount -- slightly lower at $185 million due to estimate differences -- that is all reimbursable by the federal government.
“Tom Suozzi's biggest problem is Adam Haber, whom I'm certain recognizes the billions in debt Tom saddled taxpayers with while hiking property taxes and his own paycheck,” Mangano spokesman Brian Nevin told Patch.
Nevin said the Haber campaign’s response to Suozzi's “mudslinging” was to launch www.hightaxtom.com, which takes aim at “Suozzi’s record of hiking property taxes, implementing a home energy tax, giving himself a pay raise and wasting millions of taxpayer dollars.”
Maragos Declares Budgetary Surplus for County, Weitzman Responds
Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos released Monday the audited fiscal year 2012 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) and confirmed the county finished with a $41.5 million budgetary surplus in its primary operating funds.
However, Under Nassau Finance Interim Authority (NIFA) rules, which exclude other financing sources of revenues, the county ended 2012 with at a mark of negative $85.5 million. Despite the negative totals, Maragos said it is 54 percent improvement compared to the negative $184.3 million recorded in 2009 under the previous administration.
The previous administration included former county comptroller Howard Weitzman, who said Monday that Maragos’ numbers are not correct.
Weitzman said that the year-end report for fiscal year 2012 by Maragos does not account for the hundreds of millions of dollars owed by the county to taxpayers who successfully challenged property tax assessments.
“Ignoring the expense of unpaid property tax refunds is like putting your credit card bill in a drawer and assuming it no longer needs to be paid,” Weitzman said.
Maragos said the surplus was achieved primarily through expense reductions and lower debt servicing costs. The surplus includes $9.7 million in unanticipated costs to help Nassau residents recover from Superstorm Sandy.
Under Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) as required for governmental financial reporting, the county’s independently audited financial statements for the fiscal year reported a surplus of $27.5 million in the primary operating funds.
Maragos said the GAAP surplus is lower than the budgetary surplus due to adjustments that are required for reporting purposes, such as the adjustment to match the pension contribution expense to the proper time period.