County budget rejected by NIFA

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The Nassau County Legislative and Executive Building is seen in Mineola. (Photo by DanTD via Wikimedia Commons)

Late last month, Republican legislators in Nassau County stripped $60 million in fee hikes from the proposed $2.99 billion budget despite warnings from the the Nassau Interim Finance Authority that it would reject the budget. NIFA, a state oversight board that controls the county’s finances, followed through on that warning last Thursday when it rejected the budget.

The board voted unanimously against the proposed 2018 budget, claiming that the budget amendments that replaced the fee increases were based on overly optimistic assumptions and would fail to generate sufficient revenue. The county has until Nov. 27 to find an additional $31.5 million from revenue or cuts. If the county does not have a NIFA-approved budget by then, the board can make its own cuts.

“There’s probably a lot of sacred cows in that report that legislators don’t want to cut,” said NIFA spokesman David Chauvin.

When the legislators removed the fee hikes, they supplied a variety of sources for revenue. But NIFA did not accept some amendments.

In their October budget, legislators said $10 million would come from unspent money from the 2017 budget and $9.5 million from the county’s fund balance. These were rejected by NIFA because they are one-time sources of revenue.

Legislators reduced projections for police overtime and increased projections for sales tax revenue, which they said would provide the county with a combined $10 million. But NIFA said these estimates were not backed by historical trends. A restructuring of Nassau’s debt, which legislators claimed would save $7.5 million, was also deemed overly optimistic by NIFA.

The oversight board did agree with some amendments, such as increased staffing attrition to provide $8 million. NIFA also agreed with several measures it had originally proposed to the county: eliminating paper checks, using an energy consultant and consolidating police technology. These proposals would increase county revenue by $6.5 million.

To help move the process along, NIFA Chairman Adam Barsky met with legislators to discuss the budget on Monday.

“This meeting is perhaps the first one that he has held with legislators during the budget process,” Chauvin said.

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