MINEOLA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – As Election Day approaches, some in Nassau County claim there’s an effort to fool voters.
As CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan reported, the charge is that incumbents are leaving people in the dark by tucking controversial fees into their budget.
Voters want to know whether a fake budget will be passed in this election year – one that fails to include enough revenue to cover the spending that lawmakers approve.
“I want honesty from my elected officials. That’s why we put them there,” one man said.
“What are your plans for the budget?” a woman asked.
“It’s been a snake pit as far as Nassau County politics has been lately,” another added.
County Executive Ed Mangano, who denies corruption charges, is not seeking reelection. His $3 billion budget includes proposals to raise $60 million by hiking the highly unpopular traffic, parking and red light camera fees, along with controversial real estate transaction fees, McLogan reported.
“Everybody’s afraid to take a stand one way or the other,” a woman said.
“Nobody’s getting anything done. Polarization,” a man added.
“Citizens have to advocate for themselves and push elected officials,” another woman said.
Voters say either cut spending or admit to raising taxes.
Every Nassau County legislator is up for reelection. Will the Republicans, who hold the majority, go along with their lame duck leader or play dodgeball, as they did two years ago, and table the decision on fees until after November votes are cast – and then hike them?
“We are skeptical of the fees in the budget and are looking at alternative revenue sources,” a spokesperson for the Nassau County Republican legislators said.
The Democrats pounced.
“Rest assured that there are votes within the Democratic Caucus that are going to be voting against this fee package,” Nassau County Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams said.
At the same time, they plan to reintroduce a bill they claim would ban the so-called bait and switch.
Candidates for county executive say it’s a big deal.
“Voters deserve to know how their legislators are going to vote on this budget before the election. We are talking about restoring accountability and transparency to government,” Democrat Laura Curran said.
“My message to legislators is have the courage of your convictions, get rid of those fee increases. Because there’s no place for them there. We’re already the highest feed county in the entire state,” said Republican Jack Martins.
Voters McLogan spoke with said they want a pledge from their candidates before Election Day – Will they balance the budget without backdoor fees?
Public hearings on the budget are scheduled for October 20 and October 30. The latter is the day the legislators are to vote.