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Long IslandColumnistsJoye Brown

Nassau blinks in dispute with NIFA over contracts

E-mailing minds — yep, that includes, you, Dave — want to know:

Who won Tuesday’s face-off between Nassau’s financial control board and County Attorney Carnell Foskey, who had been ordered to appear personally and explain the county’s foot-dragging on submitting union contract summaries.

Looks line the winner, for now, would be the Nassau Interim Finance Authority.

To recap, two weeks ago frustrated board members ordered Foskey to appear — and threatened to go to court, if necessary, to compel compliance — after the county dumped thousands of pages of contracts with its unions, along with side letters and memoranda of understandings.

That’s not what NIFA had ordered.

Instead, what the control board wanted were contract summaries, which would provide a baseline for upcoming negotiatons with county unions, whose contracts expire at the end of this year.

Such baselines are important because it builds common ground for negotiators, something essential in fiscally ailing Nassau, where — as in other municipalities — personnel costs account for the largest chunk of expenses.

NIFA, beginning back in 2014, asked Nassau to consolidate its contracts into a more accessible form. But the county never complied.

Last year, NIFA ordered the county to comply — but, after missing several deadlines, it failed to produce what NIFA wanted.

Which brings us back to Tuesday’s meeting, where Foskey and other county representatives talked to NIFA board members in a closed session.

Who blinked?

Nassau did, because after some initial hemming and hawing from county officials, Foskey did make an appearance. And he took NIFA’s threat to take him to court for non-compliance seriously enough that he brought along a lawyer.

In addition, Nassau — which last week was insisting that it had satisfied NIFA’s order with a document dump, and was defiant in stating that it intended to do nothing more — has changed its tune. The county is now is working to meet NIFA’s demands.

Was the board satisfied?

“I wouldn’t use the term satisfied,” Adam Barsky, NIFA’s chairman, said in an interview Wednesday. “We will be satisfied when both [the county and its unions] have signed off on the baseline.”

He said the county now has made significant progress, “but it is important that it be finished.” If not, NIFA will not approve any contracts negotiated between the county and its unions, he said.

“The county has a round of meetings set up with the unions . . . and they will circle back with us after those meetings to see where things are,” he said.

And there things stand — until next time.

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