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Nassau's Budget Struggle / NIFA: Woes to worsen without fix

A day before Nassau County is expected to submit a new

spending blueprint to a state oversight board, the head of the panel warned

yesterday that the county's budget problems could worsen unless officials take

corrective action.

With County Executive Thomas Suozzi threatening to lay off as many as 640

workers and cut social service programs, Frank Zarb, chairman of the Nassau

Interim Finance Authority, said, "The county is really going to have to do some

quick stepping to stay ahead of the wave."

Today, Suozzi is scheduled to give NIFA an updated report on a 4-year plan

he crafted last year to help the county reverse its budget deficits.

Administration officials have released few details ahead of today's submission,

but sources familiar with the report said the county executive will present

two scenarios.

The first case assumes Nassau will achieve the budget goals Suozzi set out

last year, but the second calls for layoffs and deep program cuts if the county

fails to cement two key elements of Suozzi's recovery plan.

Suozzi hinged much of the county's success on a proposal to save $25

million by creating a sewer and storm water authority and a separate proposal

to save $35 million by garnering concessions from police unions.

Both initiatives have stalled. In Albany, state lawmakers who would have to

approve the sewer authority have given it little support, while at home,

Suozzi has failed to persuade union leaders to agree to givebacks.

Speaking before NIFA members at a meeting in Uniondale yesterday, Presiding

Officer Judith Jacobs (D-Woodbury), head of the legislature's Democratic

majority, said she was still lobbying state lawmakers to pass legislation to

create the sewer authority, which would generate savings by restructuring

county debt.

"We have our work cut out for us," Jacobs said.

NIFA board member Richard Kessel said he and his fellow board members want

to see a plan that ensures the county will be able to balance its books even if

some of Suozzi's budget proposals fail.

"We're going to want to see how the county plans to balance its budget

assuming the worst, not the best," Kessel said. "What we want to see are bold


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