Nassau County ended 2018 with a $27.5 million deficit, plummeting over 77 percent from the $122.4 million end-of-year deficit in 2017, the county’s annual financial report shows.
The report by Nassau County Comptroller Jack Schnirman showed that the county is moving in the right direction “but there is a long way to go,” he said.
The unassigned fund balance, also known as the county’s rainy-day fund, also saw a large increase of almost 70 percent in 2018 to negative $22 million, according to the report. In 2017, the fund had a negative balance of $68.8 million.
The comptroller identified factors that drove the improvement as a 3.7 percent growth in sales tax revenues contributing an additional $43.1 million to the county, a decrease of $60 million in personnel spending from 2017, the payment of $38.6 million worth of backlog tax certiorari expenses, a $10.4 million increase in revenue from public safety fees and a $9.5 million increase in revenues from payments in lieu of taxes.
Schnirman said his office will continue monitoring the county’s financial situation to ensure the progress is sustainable.
The county saw a rise in its liabilities in 2018. Its total tax certiorari liabilities rose by $34.3 million to $604.6 million while litigation liabilities increased to $414.8 million.
The tax certiorari liability is the result of the county having to refund more money in property tax payments than in 2017.
Because of the county’s financial problems, its spending is overseen by a state agency, the Nassau Interim Finance Authority.
External auditors didn’t find any new deficiencies in the county during its audit this year, but raised concerns over the county’s outdated financial system and decentralized operations, according to the report.
In conjunction with releasing the comprehensive financial report, Schnirman’s office launched the Open Finance website, which provides taxpayers with a user-friendly view of the newly released report.