Maragos to make $28M LIRR payment on time

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Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos

Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos will make the county’s $28 million payment to the Long Island Rail Road on time after threatening to delay it, he said Wednesday.

The railroad will get Nassau’s annual contribution for station maintenance by Friday’s deadline, Maragos said.

Last Wednesday, Maragos said he would make the payment late after a survey by his office found that 65 percent of Nassau commuters are unhappy with train service overall. Maragos said he’s made his point about the LIRR’s general quality and sees no reason to keep the money any longer.

“The purpose was to raise public awareness that we’re spending all this money with the MTA and we’re not getting value for it. I think that purpose has been served,” Maragos, a Democrat, said in an interview.

Maragos sent the results of his survey, which questioned 380 riders over a six-week period, to MTA and LIRR officials.

He got no response to that letter, he said, but the railroad called his office separately with a reminder that the payment is due Sept. 1. It is usually paid by late July or early August, Maragos said.

Maragos acknowledged last week that the county is obligated by law to hand over the $28 million, which is among $143 million Nassau pays the LIRR annually.

An MTA spokesman, Aaron Donovan, last week accused Maragos, a Democrat seeking his party’s nomination for county executive, of political “grandstanding.” A Newsday editorial last week also charged that he is abusing his office to support his political campaign.

Maragos said such criticism is itself politically motivated and that the survey was “extremely valuable to this office and to taxpayers.” He has sent Newsday a letter rebutting the editorial, he said.

“I see that as a core responsibility that we have, to use all reasonable investigative mechanisms to ensure that taxpayer money is well spent — and to report to the public, by the way,” Maragos said.

Donovan declined to comment on Wednesday.

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