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Monitoring board to review Nassau's finances

Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano works on the

Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano works on the new county budget in his office in Mineola, Wednesday. (Sept. 15, 2010) Credit: Howard Schnapp

A state monitoring board will hold its final public meeting of the year Tuesday to review Nassau's finances after warning at its last session that County Executive Edward Mangano's proposed $2.6 billion budget for next year was significantly out of balance.

While officials declined to comment on what would be on the agenda, Nassau faces continuing difficulties in trying to close a budget gap the board in September said could have gone as high as $343 million, or 13 percent, next year.

The Nassau Interim Finance Authority, created by the state in 2000 during the county's last fiscal crisis, is required by state law to take control of Nassau's finances if the county runs a budget deficit of 1 percent, or if such a deficit appears imminent.

If a control period is imposed, NIFA can freeze union workers' salaries and direct Mangano to institute a recovery plan. Contractual pay raises are scheduled to take effect this spring for the county's three police unions.

However, speculation that NIFA may soon take over was dampened late last month when Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo, who put Mangano on one of his transition teams, said the county executive should be given time to correct the financial woes.

NIFA members warned Mangano in September that $244 million in his budget may not materialize next year, including $60 million in union concessions and $23 million in new revenue from initiatives that require state approval.

Since then, the Republican-controlled county legislature made $60 million in changes to Mangano's budget to provide a cushion if the labor savings don't occur. And last week, Mangano announced another $23 million in cuts that appear to replace the revenue expected from the state initiatives that have yet to materialize.

Mangano and county unions have lobbied Albany lawmakers without success for authority to raise Nassau's sales tax by a quarter-cent, which would bring in an estimated $60 million in new revenue annually. The unions, which are in the midst of a concession plan negotiated with former Democratic County Executive Thomas Suozzi, so far have refused any further givebacks.

Mangano, who campaigned against Suozzi using NIFA's criticism of his spending plans, will not attend the meeting tomorrow, a spokesman said; he will instead send his finance deputy Tim Sullivan.

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