NIFA warns Nassau could have $25M deficit

NIFA board chairman Ronald Stack discusses the proposed NIFA board chairman Ronald Stack discusses the proposed Nassau County financial plan. (Oct. 25, 2012) Photo Credit: David Pokress

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Nassau's fiscal control board warned Thursday that the county could end 2012 with a $25 million cash deficit, which could grow to $56 million by the end of next year if steps are not taken to raise revenue or cut costs.

The state board at a meeting in Uniondale also adopted a staff report directing the county to remove future-year proceeds of $80 million from selling its sewage treatment system and to restore $30 million for MTA station maintenance.

"The budget is not balanced. NIFA will have to continue for an indefinite period," said board member Chris Wright. NIFA is required to take control of the county's budget if the deficit is 1 percent or more.

NIFA must approve the county's $2.8 billion budget for next year and a four-year spending plan after they are passed by the county legislature. Because of the recent death of legislative Presiding Officer Peter Schmitt (R-Massapequa), the legislature, now split 9-9 between Republicans and Democrats, will not adopt a budget by the end of this month as required by the county charter. The vote has been postponed until after a special election on Nov. 6 to choose a Schmitt successor.

The deficits would rise to over $100 million each year if stricter state-approved accounting methods were used in reviewing Nassau's books, NIFA staff said.

Deputy County Executive for Finance Tim Sullivan said, "We thank them for their comments in respect to the out-years, will take them under advisement and will respond to the board in a timely manner."

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NIFA also expressed concern about the county's growing backlog of commercial property tax refund debt, which the county comptroller estimates will reach a total of $388 million by the end of next year.

NIFA asked the county to explain why it budgeted only $18 million to pay tax refund debt next year.

The board also ordered County Attorney John Ciampoli to turn over information about a county plan to allow homeowners owed tax refunds to sell their court ordered judgments to private investors.

Mangano spokesman Brian Nevin did not respond to a request for comment.

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