Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano plans to cut or delay $21 million in spending to accompany $15 million in revenue from an increased fee for real estate transactions to fill a $36 million hole in the 2017 county budget.
The plan Mangano, a Republican, submitted Monday to the Nassau Interim Finance Authority includes $3.8 million in cuts to the Nassau Inter-County Express bus service and shifts in police staffing expected to save $3.9 million.
The county Legislature will also vote Dec. 14 to raise the tax map verification fee next year to $355 from $225, a move expected to raise about $15 million in revenue.
NIFA, the county’s financial control board, required the revisions after rejecting the county’s budget last week, saying county officials needed to cover $36 million in revenue lost when the Legislature reduced Mangano’s proposed traffic ticket surcharge to $55 from $105.
The plan “adds recurring revenue, … protects most County services and minimizes the impact on public safety,” Eric Naughton, the deputy county executive for finance, wrote Monday in a letter to NIFA outlining the plan.
A NIFA spokesman declined to comment because the authority’s staff and directors have not yet reviewed the plan.
NIFA’s board of directors will vote on the revised budget Dec. 16.
Some spending cuts could be undone if any of the estimated $36 million in revenue comes through from an “amnesty” program reducing fines for business owners who do not report income and expense data to the county for their revenue-generating properties.
The Legislature approved the program last month, but the law requiring the reports is being challenged in court.
“Given NIFA’s arbitrary determination to exclude the revenue from the amnesty program in the 2017 budget, we had to make difficult decisions” to keep funding for youth programs and firefighter training, Presiding Officer Norma Gonsalves (R-East Meadow), the Legislature’s majority leader, said in a statement.
The tax map verification fee has nearly quintupled since it was first introduced at $75 in 2015. It rose to $225 this year.
The fee is required for county assessors to verify a property’s location on the county tax map, as required by law to file deeds, mortgages and other property records with the county clerk.
It accounts for most of the Department of Assessment’s $27.1 million in projected revenue for next year, according Mangano’s 2017 budget proposal.
The hike joins dozens of other new and increased fees in the budget, expected to raise more than $61 million. The budget would not raise property taxes.
Democrats plan to vote against the fee increase next week, said Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams, who called it “another hidden tax disguised as a fee.”
Randy Kaplan, director of government affairs for the Long Island Board of Realtors, said the higher fee makes it harder for young people, veterans, senior citizens and others to buy homes in Nassau.
“If we don’t have our people staying on Long Island and the resources here to keep them, we’re all in trouble,” Kaplan told the Legislature’s Finance Committee on Monday.
Mangano’s proposed spending cuts would reassign 30 officers from certain police units to regular patrols to save $1.2 million. The Police Department will also delay hiring 120 officers from Jan. 1 to March 1, and another 120 from April 1 to Sept. 1 to save $2.7 million.
No single special unit will be suspended entirely, said Brian Nevin, a spokesman for Mangano, a Republican. But some officers could be taken from the Community-Oriented Police Enforcement unit, established earlier this year to address quality-of-life crimes.
The popular Problem-Oriented Police, a community-policing program, will not be affected, Nevin said.
Mangano in September proposed a $105 surcharge for all parking and traffic tickets, known as a “public safety fee,” to fund the hiring of 150 new police officers and 81 civilian police personnel.
The Legislature cut the fee to $55 and applied it only to traffic tickets last month.
NICE Bus plans to cut five bus routes and four shuttle services with the lowest ridership if its funding is reduced, according to the NICE website. More cuts may be required in April 2017.
“It hurts people that are trying to get to work, get to doctor’s appointments, get to school,” Abrahams said. “It’s basically a cut that’s anti-work, anti-employment.”
Mangano’s proposed cuts also include $2.6 million to elected officials’ offices; $3.8 million in countywide spending; all of the county’s $1.25 million in aid to villages; $1.7 million to borrowing for capital projects; $1 million in salaries for vacant jobs; and the Regional Planning Board’s $250,000 budget.
Other cost-saving measures include redistributing the use of hotel tax revenue to save $1 million and reducing Social Services and Health caseloads to save $700,000.
District Attorney Madeline Singas’ office will also contribute $1 million toward the budget funding plan.
NIFA has the next move in its ongoing budget showdown with the county. It has threatened to reject borrowing and contracts if the county does not follow its directions and cover the budget gap.
The dispute comes as Mangano is under indictment on federal political corruption charges for allegedly exchanging county contracts for gifts and other rewards from a restaurateur. He has pleaded not guilty and refused to resign.