Martins questions plans of county GOP, Mangano

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State Sen. Jack Martins (R-Mineola) publicly disagreed with the Republican county leadership on redistricting and Republican Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano on public funding for a Nassau Coliseum makeover in a talk at the Great Neck Chamber of Commerce last week.

Speaking at a Chamber breakfast in Great Neck, Martins said he had sent letters to leaders to county Republicans calling on them to keep all of Great Neck in a single legislative district.

County Republicans originally proposed a plan that would have split representation of the village in half and also split representation of some individual villages – a plan vigorously opposed by village officials. Village officials also opposed the revised plan approved by Republican county legislators that restored most of Great Neck to District 10, but moved the Village of Lake Success to District 11 along with part of the hamlet of University Gardens.

Martins also said that taxpayer money should not be used to refurbish the Nassau Coliseum which currently houses the New York Islanders.

“Residents of Nassau County should have the ultimate say on whether to borrow $400 million in order to finance a new Nassau Coliseum through a referendum. The project would help revitalize the area and keep the New York Islanders on Long Island. It is difficult to ask residents to approve financing of a new arena during a difficult economy when many are struggling to pay their property taxes. But the residents will decide the issue and that’s the way it should be,” Martins said when asked to clarify his position this week.

At the Great Neck meeting, Martins said he does favor the initiative to develop a casino at Belmont Park. He said his position is based on the fact that residents in Elmont, where Belmont is located, support the idea of the casino being located there.

But Martins noted that the establishment of a casino on the grounds at Belmont Park would require federal, state and local approval. And he said it would not provide an immediate solution to the county’s financial woes.

“It’s not a silver bullet,” Martins said.

Mangano had announced the proposals for the coliseum and Belmont at the same time, billing them as part of a county economic development plan.

Martins also joined with his Republican senate colleagues from Long Island at a press conference earlier this week in support of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s two percent tax cap.

“The growth of property taxes here on Long Island is unsustainable. Long Island families need property tax relief and they need it now,” Martins said. “Long Island residents have constantly been asked to go into their pockets to pay more property taxes. It’s driving people away and hurting our economy.”

Martins also has declared his support to create some form of mandate reform to accompany that cap, aiming to provide some relief to village governments and school districts of the burden that high increases in both pension and health care will place on them with a tax cap in place.

Since his election last November, Martins has set a bipartisan tone with his legislative initiatives, working with state Assemblywoman Michelle Schimel on bills to modify an existing law on the process of dissolving local governments and to enable municipalities and school districts to continue using manual voting machines in local elections.

“Michelle gets it. She is a great person to work with because she cares about the communities she represents. When we go to Albany, it should never be about politics. It should be about doing what’s right for the communities we represent,” Martins said in Great Neck last week.

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