The Nassau County Legislature's budget office is projecting the county...

The Nassau County Legislature's budget office is projecting the county will end this year with a $9.2 million cash surplus, although the county's finances remain "fragile." (June 6, 2013) Credit: Howard Schnapp

The Nassau County Legislature's budget office is projecting the county will end this year with a $9.2 million cash surplus, although the county's finances remain "fragile."

The report this week by the nonpartisan Office of Budget Review said sales tax revenue is expected to come in $23 million over budget, while the county deferred $57.6 million in pension costs.

But the office warns that police overtime will be as high this year without superstorm Sandy as it was last year with the storm. It noted that the department is operating with 45 fewer officers than budgeted.

The report also anticipates that Nassau will have enough cash to pay police termination pay from operating funds rather than borrowing as proposed by County Executive Edward Mangano. But the office expects Nassau to borrow $35 million to pay tax refunds resulting from successful property tax assessment challenges.

Budget Review director Maurice Chalmers agreed with Comptroller George Maragos that Nassau ended 2012 with a $41.5 million cash surplus. "However, this is not an indication of the county's overall fiscal health," Chalmers wrote.

He said the surplus results from cost-cutting, expense deferrals, one-shot revenue, a recovering economy and a continuing wage freeze imposed by the county's financial control board, the Nassau Interim Finance Authority.

"County finances remain fragile," Chalmers said.

Chalmers' report did not address NIFA. Although Maragos last week predicted a $5.6 million cash surplus this year, the comptroller also said NIFA would likely calculate a $119.6 million deficit because the control board discounts nonrecurring revenue.

"Regardless of who is doing the analysis, the county will only have a surplus when revenues are greater than expenditures," NIFA member Chris Wright said Wednesday. "From what we can see, the county will have a substantial deficit in 2013."

The budget review report projects $62.35 million in police overtime this year.

Last year, officers earned $64.65 million in police overtime, which included $14.8 million attributed to Sandy, it said.

The report says that the police department's prediction that it could operate with fewer officers as part of a precinct consolidation plan "was too aggressive."

The Mangano administration had said that consolidating the county's eight precincts into four would save as much as $20 million by reducing the police force and moving desk cops onto the streets. But the early retirement program taken by 98 officers last year cost the county $35 million in termination pay, while the savings has been eaten up by overtime costs, the report indicates.

Noting the $9.2 million projected surplus, Mangano spokeswoman Katie Grilli-Robles said: "Clearly, the Mangano administration is managing the county without asking the taxpayers for more money."

Latest videos

SUBSCRIBE

Unlimited Digital AccessOnly 25¢for 5 months

ACT NOWSALE ENDS SOON | CANCEL ANYTIME