Nassau and Suffolk county officials took turns taking shots at everyone’s favorite punching bag Tuesday: the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
Suffolk County Attorney Christine Malafi will file briefs in support of a lawsuit filed by businesses calling for the repeal of the controversial MTA tax, which imposes a 34-cent levy on every $100 in payroll within the 12 counties the transit agency serves. Shortly later, Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano–who filed a similar lawsuit on behalf of the county against the MTA in July–released a statement calling for MTA Chairman and CEO Jay Walder to resign.
“The MTA has cut service, implemented a job-killing payroll tax and threatened to eliminate Long Island Bus altogether,” Mangano said. “Walder has clearly failed at managing the MTA, and for the sake of the taxpayers he should resign effective immediately.”
MTA spokesman Aaron Donovan declined to comment on Mangano’s statement. Walder was appointed to run the nation’s largest public transportation system last year.
Nassau filed suit their day after the MTA proposed cutting the $26 million to LI Bus, eliminating the portion of the budget that the MTA has paid for the past decade since the county stopped paying its full share. MTA officials have said Nassau funded just $9 million of the $133 million budget for the bus service last year. Mangano is considering privatization of Long Island Bus as an alternative should the cuts go through in January.
Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy highlighted the MTA’s structural imbalance, or the lack of income to cover their bills. “There is a need to reign in the MTA’s absurd $13.5 billion to $5.9 billion expense-to-revenue ratio,” Levy said. Both he and Mangano noted issues uncovered in recent audits, such as MTA employees receiving overtime pay that exceeded their salaries and budget practice flaws, among other findings.
“Despite its incredible competitive advantages–tax subsidies and bailouts–the MTA has not been able to run a self-sustaining business,” said William Schoolman, CEO of Hampton Luxury Liner and Classic Coach Companies, the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit to repeal the MTA payroll tax. “Our lawsuit represents a taxpayer revolt, a stake in the ground that says ‘enough is enough.’”