Reporting Mike Xirinachs
MINEOLA, NY (WCBS 880/1010 WINS/AP) - A New York lawmaker plans hearings over what he says could be possible ethics conflicts involving a state-appointed fiscal watchdog that has taken over Nassau County finances.
Peter Schmitt, the presiding officer of the county legislature, also said Monday he supported legal action to overturn the decision by the Nassau Interim Finance Authority.
Mona Rivera of 1010 WINS reported early Monday evening that Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano’s office has filed a lawsuit against NIFA.
The authority last week cited a gap of $176 million in Nassau’s $2.6 billion 2011 budget in taking control of the county’s finances. It has given the county until Feb. 15 to revise its numbers.
But Schmitt and Mangano insist there is no looming deficit. Schmitt contends the watchdog’s actions are politically motivated. Authority chairman Ronald Stack denies that.
“The public has a right to known exactly who the heck these people are, and where they’re coming from, and what the intersts are,” Schmitt said.
Mangano also released a statement Monday saying NIFA’s action was “unfounded, unfair and wrong.”
The county executive said that is why he has taken the “necessary legal steps to protect taxpayers” by filing the lawsuit.
NIFA released a statement Monday afternoon saying it was “disappointed” that Schmitt “chose to make unfounded attacks on the integrity of all six NIFA Directors.”
“The NIFA Directors will not be distracted or intimidated from performing their statutory responsibilities on behalf of Nassau County and New York State,” the statement said.
Mangano accuses the NIFA and the media of playing politics with county finances. He says they’re exaggerating the county’s finance problems for political purposes.
“This is just a game to have us boxed in to raising real property taxes, a political game so they can say ‘Ed Mangano and the Tea Party came to office with reform and were unable to accomplish it’,” Mangano told WCBS 880 Long Island Bureau Chief Mike Xirinachs.
No hearing date has been set.
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