Republican Nassau County executive candidate Jack Martins on Tuesday criticized the county’s financial control board for commissioning a report that suggested balancing the budget by privatizing ambulance services and defunding crossing guards, firefighter training and youth programs.
Joined by local fire chiefs and nonprofit service providers, Martins stood on the grounds of the county fire academy in Old Bethpage and said the state-appointed Nassau Interim Finance Authority “owes the county taxpayers an apology” for spending up to $150,000 on a consultant’s report listing $87 million in potential cuts.
Martins said the report was irresponsible in suggesting Nassau could save the most money — up to $15 million annually — by contracting with a private ambulance company instead of using police department staff. The report, Martins said, didn’t consider revenue that ambulance services bring the county.
“It really shows how off base not only the consultant is, but NIFA as well,” said Martins, a former state senator.
The report by Great Neck-based Capital Markets Advisors was released last week, as Nassau was preparing its 2018 budget. NIFA has asked for about $100 million in spending cuts.
Many of the suggestions are not new. Aides to County Executive Edward Mangano, a Republican who is not seeking re-election, have said they’re studying an ambulance privatization, while the Youth Services office has come on the chopping block repeatedly during budget talks.
But backers of those programs bristled because an oversight board is suggesting cuts. “These are unelected, appointed officials,” said Nassau Civil Service Association president Jerry Laricchiuta.
NIFA chairman Adam Barsky said the board merely wants Nassau to balance its budget. “The Nassau Interim Finance Authority neither endorses nor rejects any of the recommendations made by the independent consultant,” he said in a statement.
Martins will face the winner of the Sept. 12 Democratic primary for county executive between County Legis. Laura Curran and County Comptroller George Maragos. Both have criticized the NIFA report.
Curran said she won’t “make draconian cuts” to youth services or police programs.
Maragos called the report “a complete waste of money.”