Reuters Investigates

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In Gatsby country, tea and red ink

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TAXES/NASSAU-TEAPARTYLocated just east of New York City and the setting for F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel “The Great Gatsby,” Nassau County makes an unexpected backdrop for a fiscal crisis. It is one of America’s wealthiest counties and, according to Forbes, it has the highest concentration of affluent neighborhoods in the United States.

But on Wednesday, New York state took control of Nassau’s finances, dealing a huge blow to Tea Party Republican County Executive Edward Mangano and a black eye for the Tea Party, the grassroots movement built around the core principles of constitutionally limited government, free-market ideology and low taxes. The county, which has vowed to battle the takeover in court, must now come up with a new budget.

In some ways, the county’s predicament remains highly unusual. It has for years been plagued by overspending and the state created a fiscal overseer in 2000 to help shore up its finances. But in other ways, Nassau’s dilemma is familiar to struggling municipalities across the country: how to arrive at a balanced budget when anti-tax fervor sweeps the country and sales tax revenues are still well below their pre-recession levels.  

Edith Honan and Kristina Cooke went to the “Gold Coast” to investigate for a Reuters special report: “A Long Island tax cut backfires on the Tea Party.”