Nassau County’s financial control board has approved a county plan to save more than $50 million in operating costs through reduced spending on gasoline and utilities and lower than expected police termination costs to narrow a projected $130 million deficit for 2016.
In an Aug. 1 letter to Nassau Interim Finance Authority Chairman Adam Barsky, county Budget Director Roseann D’Alleva detailed a plan to save $50.3 million by the end of the year by cutting spending and boosting revenue.
Barsky said in an interview that while NIFA will accept the plan, the board will “continue to hold the county’s feet to the fire. And if they are not able to achieve the savings during the course of the year, we will impose additional cuts to get to our goal.”
NIFA recently adjusted its budget projections for the rest of 2016.
NIFA projects Nassau will end the year with a budgetary deficit of $18 million, largely because of revenue sources that may not materialize this year.
Those revenue include money Nassau was expecting from Off-Track Betting video lottery terminals and money it expected to receive in fines against firms that did not submit income and expense statements to the county’s assessment department.
Nassau OTB has yet to submit to the state a plan transferring its authority to host 1,000 VLTs to Resorts World Casino in Queens, and the income and expense law is tied up in court.
NIFA, which does not count the use of borrowing and reserves, is projecting a $130.3 million deficit for 2016 under generally accepted accounting principles.
Nassau reached a deal with NIFA last year to limit its 2016 GAAP deficit to $80 million. By cutting $50.3 million, county officials believe they can meet the $80 million deficit target.
“Through sound fiscal management the county continues its commitment to ending FY 2016 with a NIFA GAAP deficit that does not exceed $80 million without using other financing sources,” D’Alleva wrote.
NIFA board member Chris Wright, a frequent critic of Nassau’s financial management, said county officials must prove they are willing to follow through on their plan.
“As with anything else regarding Nassau County’s budget, it’s not about the ideas, it’s about the execution,” Wright said. “I’m hopeful that they will make substantive progress on balancing the budget.”
Nassau says it will save $13 million in termination costs because fewer police officers than expected are scheduled to retire in 2016. An additional $8.5 million would be saved through reduced utility spending and “across the board cuts” in county departments, D’Alleva wrote.
Nassau also projects an uptick of $7.3 million, in part, through the rent of county properties, and $4.5 million in higher than expected red light camera revenue, county fees and Parks Department revenue.
Barsky last month rejected an earlier county plan to save $23 million, saying the proposal was “based on numbers that are not realistic or achievable.”
That plan included cuts such as trimming the county’s snow removal budget while double-counting other initiatives Nassau had previously identified to close potential holes in the county’s operating budget.
Nassau County’s financial control board has accepted a county deficit-reduction plan that relies on:
$13 million in lower than expected police termination costs
$8.5 million in across-the-board departmental cuts and spending reductions for utilities
$7.3 million in higher than expected revenue from rentals of county properties:
$5 million in spending cuts for early intervention and preschool education
$4.5 million by not paying MTA contract termination costs related to county bus service
$3.4 million FEMA recovery of 10 percent local match on county projects
$2.4 million in higher than expected interest and penalties on payments of property taxes and revenue from annual tax lien sales
$2.2 million in higher than expected mortgage recording, deed and other real estate transaction fees
$1.7 million in reduced spending on social service caseloads
$1.3 million in higher than expected tax map verification fees and Parks Department revenue
$1 million in higher than expected red light camera revenue
Source: Nassau County executive