Frank Zarb, former chief executive of Nasdaq and the original chairman of the Nassau Interim Finance Authority, will lead a task force to address persistent deficits in the county’s $3 billion budget.
Zarb, 83, who was appointed by Nassau County Executive Laura Curran, led NIFA from 2000 to 2002 after the State Legislature and then-Gov. George Pataki created the board to oversee county finances as part of a historic state bailout package to the county.
Zarb, who confirmed the appointment Thursday, is charged with creating a strategy for the Curran administration to end NIFA’s control period. The period began in January 2011 when the board seized control of county finances because the county deficit exceeded 1 percent of its budget.
Nassau could have a budget deficit of as much as $104.7 million this year, according to NIFA’s analysis of a modified 2018 budget Curran submitted in March. The figure does not account for new collective bargaining agreements with the county’s five major employee unions or potentially large payouts for legal judgments.
“The county executive wants to restore a financially healthy Nassau and end the control period. That achievement would be in the best interests of all the stakeholders,” Zarb said in an emailed statement.
NIFA chairman Adam Barsky said in a statement: “My hope is that this committee’s mandate will be to reduce the deficit to zero and end the control period.”
Other members of the panel include Charles Fuschillo, a former state senator who represented the 8th District and is chief executive of the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America; Marc Shaw, a former deputy under New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg who is a senior adviser for finances to the chancellor of the City University of New York; Elizabeth McCaul, an investment banker and former superintendent of banks for the State of New York who is chief executive for Promontory Europe, a financial firm; and Mark Page, Nassau County deputy county executive for finance.
The group will meet before the end of the month. Curran has requested a report within 45 days.
“I want to thank this group for accepting my request to review the county’s finances and propose solutions to address our fiscal challenges and end NIFA’s control period,” Curran said. “The vast and diverse professional experience among the members of the panel will be a great benefit to the residents of Nassau County.”
Then-Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano tapped Zarb in 2015 to lead a panel to examine Nassau’s contracting process.
Zarb and committee members Stuart Rabinowitz, president of Hofstra University, and Robert Catell, a former chairman of KeySpan, recommended an anti-“pay-to-play” law to limit vendors’ campaign contributions to county political candidates and appointment of independent auditors to oversee the contracting system.