County Executive Ed Mangano addressed a full house of politicians, firefighters, police officers, veterans, business owners and community members at the Twin Rinks in Eisenhower Park on March 11, giving his sixth State of the County Address since he took office.
He outlined his continued vision of keeping Nassau County a better place to “live, work and raise a family. Just as our parents struggled to provide a better life for us, my team and I are intent on providing a better county for the next generation.” Mangano addressed the problem of millennials leaving Nassau County, outlining a plan for keeping the county affordable, safe and a fun place to live.
Mangano spoke on the loss of private sector jobs, but emphasized that good middle class jobs are returning.
“We stand here today with a record that includes creating and retaining more than 20,000 jobs and employment opportunities,” said Mangano, listing several companies that have come to Long Island, providing a $3 billion boost to Nassau’s economy.
Mangano discussed growing the health care industry, which is Nassau’s number one employer. Along with Winthrop and Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine, Memorial Sloan Kettering will have a new cancer center near a refurbished Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, which he predicts will bring “250 good paying jobs with an average salary of $150,000 a year.”
In an effort to keep the region attractive to young entrepreneurs, Mangano is working to create a Nassau Tech Task Team.
“My team also assisted Andrew Hazen and Peter Goldsmith in the creation of a high technology business accelerator-known as LaunchPad in downtown Great Neck Plaza and Mineola,” he said. “This accelerator is bringing young entrepreneurs from New York City to Nassau. One company received $800,000 in venture funding.”
With closing remarks on the topic of jobs, Mangano showed a graph that illustrated how Nassau continues to lead the region with the lowest unemployment rate of 4 percent, which is down from 7 percent from when he first took office. He also encouraged residents to shop locally.
The biggest obstacle first-time home owners face are the high taxes in Nassau County that go along with trying to purchase their first home. While most young people could buy a starter home in the past, affordable housing is seemingly no longer an option, but instead more along the lines of an apartment.
“More than 3,500 new apartments have opened or are under construction in the county with more than 1,000 units being constructed through our initiative to convert vacant office space into apartments near transit centers,” said Mangano, stating the success from Hempstead, Great Neck Plaza, Farmingdale, Mineola, Roslyn and Westbury. “Our housing initiative not only assists young families, it revitalizes downtowns by increasing economic activity.”
In 2010, Nassau County had a $378 million deficit. In an effort to put more money in the pockets of homeowners, Mangano froze property taxes for five years, eliminated Nassau’s Home Energy Tax and reduced the size of government by 20 percent, thus cutting $330 million in wasteful spending.
While the audience response was positive to Mangano’s speech, the Democratic Legislators had their own opinions. The rebuttal, led by Legislator Kevan Abrahams, questioned high tax pay.
“One has to ask, why are we one of the few counties with a Financial Control Board for 16 years? All of this while we pay some of the highest taxes in the nation,” said Abrahams. “We are in the third month of 2015 and we are facing a $150 million deficit according to some NIFA board members.”
In closing, Mangano emphasized that there was much to be proud of in Nassau and that his vision for the future was fast becoming a reality.