Nassau legislative Democrats Monday blocked an attempt by Republican County Executive Edward Mangano to borrow $35.2 million for employee termination pay, saying he didn't need that much.
The GOP-controlled county legislature voted 12-7 along party lines for the borrowing measure, but a 13-vote supermajority was needed for passage.
Mangano administration aides told lawmakers the borrowing is necessary to pay departing employees -- primarily police officers -- for unused vacation, sick and personal time.
But Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport) noted the legislature has approved $8.5 million in borrowing for termination pay that the county's financial control board, the Nassau Interim Finance Authority, has yet to approve. NIFA should authorize that before lawmakers approve new bonds, he said.
NIFA chairman Jon Kaiman said he expected to discuss the borrowing proposal at an upcoming meeting with county leaders. "The county's case for additional bonding authority is always more compelling when there is clarity on how much is needed and where it should come from," he said.
He also cited $10 million in a reserve fund for police termination costs and noted it was unclear whether sales tax revenue would meet 2015 projections.
"Everything is in flux and we want to see how the county performs before we commit to $35.2 million," Abrahams said.
A Mangano spokesman declined to comment on Monday's vote. But during the meeting, the administration's finance deputy, Eric Naughton, said without approval of the $35.2 million in borrowing, the county would have to pay more termination pay than anticipated out of the operating budget, risking cuts to other programs and contracts.
"We will look at every possible discretionary expense to make cuts," Naughton said.
Deputy Presiding Officer Richard Nicolello (R-New Hyde Park) questioned the logic of Democrats blocking the $35.2 million borrowing request.
"What's the benefit of doing it piecemeal?" Nicolello said. "Do we come back to this body every month? The projections bear out that this money will be needed eventually."
Nassau's 2015 budget anticipates $33 million in bond proceeds for termination pay.
The funding is part of a larger agreement between Mangano, Abrahams and Presiding Officer Norma Gonsalves (R-East Meadow) that included Democratic approval of $158 million in total borrowing -- including $125 million to pay property tax refunds -- in exchange for initiatives such as reopening the Fifth Police Precinct in Elmont and police officer body cameras.