Written by Joe Scotchie Friday, 01 January 2010 00:00
The final 2009 meeting of the Nassau County Legislature was highlighted with the expected repeal of the home energy tax.
That repeal was not met with a veto by outgoing County Executive Thomas R. Suozzi. Instead, Suozzi, last week, said he would leave the executive decision to incoming County Executive Edward I. Mangano. According to published reports, Suozzi said he would have supported an energy tax repeal if it were economically feasible.
The repeal vote took place at the Monday, Dec. 21 meeting. Earlier, the repeal was approved in committee by a 10-9 vote. On the final vote, all eight Republicans voted for the repeal. Five Democrats joined them: David Denenberg (D-Merrick), Jeff Toback (D-Oceanside), David Mejias (D-Farmingdale), Joe Scannell (D-Baldwin), and Wayne Wink (D-Roslyn).
The home energy tax, approved by the legislature in February and implemented in June, was imposed on all residential home energy sources, including LIPA electric usage, oil, natural gas, steam services and even coal, propane and firewood. It was expected to generate $40 million in revenue, all in an attempt to close the county’s $150 million budget gap.
Two Democrats who voted for the repeal, Mejias and Toback, were defeated in their re-election bids in November. When the new legislature convenes in January, the Republicans will hold an 11-8 majority. All this means that County Executive Mangano will sign the repeal into law. Last week, Mangano declared he would do just that.
“Repealing the energy tax was a Republican initiative and a cornerstone of my campaign,” said Mangano. “I intend to stand by the promise to repeal the energy tax and look forward to doing so responsibly. My financial team will address this through a collective and thoughtful process.”
Meanwhile, Legislator Peter J. Schmitt (R-Massapequa), who is expected to become majority leader in the new legislature, was pleased with the vote.
“The Republicans set the agenda and are responsible for the repeal of this onerous, regressive and unfair tax,” Schmitt said in a statement. “The residents have spoken by voting out Tom Suozzi and the Democrat Majority on the Legislature, and I am thrilled that the residents’ voices have finally been heard.”
Legislator Judi Bosworth (D-Great Neck) was one of the five Democratic lawmakers who voted for the tax and also against its repeal.
“[The] energy tax represented one of the options County Executive [Tom] Suozzi proposed to address the current fiscal crisis,” Bosworth told Anton Community Newspapers. “This was an emergency measure that was enacted only in response to the decline in county revenue caused by the recent worldwide financial decline.”
The legislator added that the energy tax was the responsible thing to do some months ago and was voting against repealing it.
“It was a necessary and painful step to take … [but] there has not been enough of a change in the economy to say it is no longer necessary which is why I [voted] against repealing the tax,” said Legislator Bosworth. “This measure was one that made our fiscal outlook better in a very challenging fiscal time.”
– Victoria Caruso-Davis contributed to this article.