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Yatauro: Is Coliseum Deal Worth A Nassau County Tax Increase?

Estimates say tax increase could be four percent per household.

Editor's Note: Diane Yatauro, D-Glen Cove, is the Minority leader of the Nassau County Legislature.

Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano and his Republican Legislative Caucus have called for an August 1 referendum where County residents can vote on his plan to raze the Nassau Veterans Coliseum and replace it with a new structure, add a new minor league baseball stadium, appropriate parking and maybe some retail stores.

If voters approve, Mr. Mangano will turn the mid-County area known as the HUB into a major sports entertainment complex. No matter how he spins it, Mr. Mangano is asking County residents to vote themselves a tax increase. Independent estimates say the increase could be four percent per household. That belief was echoed by board members of the Nassau Interim Finance Authority (NIFA) at their July 14 meeting.

What looked like a plan to generate jobs and sorely needed revenue may just be another disaster waiting to happen.

As the legislative leader of the Democratic Caucus, it bothers me that Mr. Mangano never sought our input in his planning. He presented us with a finished product to accept or reject. Specific details on the plan were scarce and slow coming.

I am concerned that if the rosy future Mr. Mangano and Mr. Wang foresee fails to materialize, our taxpayers will be stuck with significant tax increases to pay the debt service on this venture. Taxpayers will be responsible since all funds collected from the revenue sharing agreement will go into a "spend all" general account and not to repay the money taxpayers have already spent. All major projects should be guaranteed by the borrower. No such guarantee exists and should the plan go bust, County taxpayers are still on the hook.

My husband and I are huge Islanders fans. My family attends many Coliseum shows and concerts. I want an affordable solution that keeps our team here and develops that HUB property in a way that assures taxpayer protection.

At its July 14 meeting NIFA board members unanimously expressed serious reservations about the coliseum deal. They believe the total debt involved could be $800 million not just the $400 million we are being asked to borrow. They factor in interest payments on the debt for 30 years which means another burden shifted to the next generation.

For me the concerns are hard to dismiss. The increasing red ink in our County budget and the rising debt deeply troubles me.

Too much information is still missing from the Coliseum plan. It contains too much wishful thinking. It leaves too many questions unanswered. I urge Nassau voters to examine this issue and do what is in their best interest. And by all means vote on August 1.

Phil Kirk July 18, 2011 at 09:18 PM
Does anyone know where the residents cast their ballot. Will it be at their normal voting station, local high school ?
R. Silver July 19, 2011 at 04:48 AM
I think with all the financial problems that Nassau County has at present along with the ridiculously high taxes we pay, to build this facility and go further in debt and ask the residents to pay higher taxes while many are having a hard time to pay them now is insane. To provide this to a money making private enterprise who can afford to do this on their own for their own benefit insults the intelligence of our residents and furthermore, does nothing to reduce expenditures to lower taxes presently. Nassau county's finances are presently under scrutiny by NY state. Politicians should realize that taxpayers have long memories, especially around election time.
baygirl July 19, 2011 at 02:05 PM
The deal is too financially risky.
Leslie July 19, 2011 at 05:51 PM
Yes, it will be at your regular polling station that you vote at for Primary and General Elections.
Jeffrey Votteler July 19, 2011 at 09:37 PM
You need to provide some details with this article. http://www.newsday.com/sports/hockey/islanders/firm-nassau-loses-big-if-islanders-move-1.3028925 http://islanders.nhl.com/v2/ext/HUB%20REDEVELOPMENT%20PROJEC_001.pdf http://islanders.nhl.com/v2/ext/Revenue-Sharing-Agreement-Analysis.pdf
Phil Lesh July 20, 2011 at 01:50 AM
What Ms. Yatauro appears to be doing with this piece of propaganda is putting her own political agenda ahead of the well being of Nassau County. Nassau County needs this project. Unfortunately for Ms. Yatauro and her Democratic caucus, the proposal was put forth by a Republican. Ms. Yatauro would rather ignore the benefits of a new arena and put forth her real agenda, to wit, make Mangano look bad and regain the legisltaive majority for the democrats. If the Islanders leave and Nassau County suffers as a result, it's a small price to pay, right Ms. Yatauro. Whatever Jay Jacobs wants, right? Follow your marching orders, honey. Absolutely shameful.
DaveZ July 20, 2011 at 03:58 AM
Yatauro doesn't mention that the 4% relates to county tax only - not your entire tax bill. The independent budget office concluded that the tax hit would be $13.80 per year and could be lower if the new arena is successful in attracting more events and attendance.

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