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New Mangano spending plan faces possible rejection by NIFA

Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano speaks at the

Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano speaks at the Nassau Coliseum on Thursday Nov. 5, 2015 in Uniondale. Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano submitted a revised 2016 budget on Monday, but the spending plan faces possible rejection this week by a state monitoring board.

Nassau Interim Finance Authority chairman Jon Kaiman said the board "may" reject the plan when it meets Friday, but it's unclear whether there will be any immediate budget cuts. Instead, the board could impose reductions if the county fails to meet quarterly spending and revenue goals next year.

"We're setting up a role where we would not be involved in the day to day operations of the county, but will be able to monitor revenue and expenditures to make sure they are consistent with budget projections," Kaiman said.

In a letter to the board Monday, Mangano said his revised budget addresses $81.3 million of revenue and spending risks that NIFA identified when it first rejected the budget last month.

The revised budget includes $16 million in new mortgage recording fees and tax map verification fees that the Republican-controlled legislature approved last week.

Mangano's amended budget also reduces spending by $19.8 million. The proposed cuts include:

$12.8 million in debt service payments by delaying until February 2016 borrowing for capital projects, termination pay and tax refunds.

$4 million by ending a contract for custodial work in Nassau parks, with the work moving to county employees. Also, contract spending in the departments of Information Technology, Human Services, and the Taxi and Limousine Commission would be reduced.

$3 million spending on fringe benefits due to workforce reductions.

"The combination of new revenue and further reductions to the expense budget provides $35.8 million of actions to offset the possible risks that have been identified by NIFA," Mangano wrote.

But the fee hikes and expense reductions may not be enough to persuade NIFA to approve the $2.95 billion budget on Friday, Kaiman said.

NIFA board members say sales tax revenue may fall $10.7 million short of county projections. Board members also believe that Nassau has underestimated police overtime costs by $9.2 million.

Under NIFA's plan, both the board and county Comptroller George Maragos would review the county's finances on March 31 -- and every three months thereafter -- to see whether revenue and spending are on target.

If costs are too high or revenue is lagging, NIFA could force the county to make spending cuts to balance the budget. NIFA could also choose to reject contracts and capital spending requests in the amount of the budget shortfall, Kaiman said.

"If the county is right in their projections, there's nothing to worry about," Kaiman said. "But if they are not correct, then cuts will kick in."

Maragos said his office will help "track revenues and report shortfalls." He said Mangano's revised budget does not appear to address "the long term structural fiscal challenges the county faces."

In his letter, Mangano said the county's budget office would "develop a month-by-month plan" to track the administration's progress in meeting spending and revenue targets.

Mangano said he expects the county to meet its sales tax and overtime projections, but he conceded that it might not get $20 million from a proposed video gaming parlor "because of implementation delays."

Nassau Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. expects to announce the location of the gaming site this month, Mangano wrote.

An OTB spokesman declined to comment.

Presiding Officer Norma Gonsalves (R-East Meadow) declined to comment. Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport) said NIFA's plan for periodic reviews "seems like a good idea."

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