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Nassau sale tax surplus may be optimistic, budget report says

Nassau County executive Laura Curran, speaks duing a

Nassau County executive Laura Curran, speaks duing a rally at IBEW Local 1049 in Holtsville on Sunday, April 8, 2018, where governor Andrew Cuomo also spoke. Credit: James Carbone

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran may have been too optimistic when she projected an $8 million surplus in sales taxes this year in a revised spending plan she submitted to Nassau’s financial control board last month, budget analysts said Thursday.

Curran disagreed, saying the first sales tax collections for 2018 have come in higher than her administration predicted.

Nassau’s first quarter adjusted sales tax check from the state, received Thursday, showed a 3.7 percent increase over the same period last year. The county collected a total of $229.8 million, according to the county legislature’s Office of Budget Review.

Curran’s financial team had predicted a 3 percent growth rate this year compared with the annual 2 percent rate estimated by the administration of former County Executive Edward Mangano.

“This is great news for Nassau County’s economy,” Curran said through a spokesman. “We need to keep this trend, continue expanding our tax base and creating jobs.”

However, the budget review office said sales taxes would have to increase by 1.3 percent through the rest of the year to meet the adopted budget. Collections would have to climb by 2.8 percent to 2.9 percent to generate the surplus projected in Curran’s revised budget.

“The $8 million 2018 net sales tax projection may be considered ambitious when compared to both the current national economic growth forecasts and recent economic developments, which may put downward pressure on consumer spending,” budget review director Maurice Chalmers wrote in a three-page report.

Evan Cohen, executive director of the Nassau Interim Finance Authority, which controls the county’s finances, said “year to date sales tax growth is strong, but needs to be sustained for the county to achieve its revised sales tax forecast.”

Nassau “must be prepared to address any revenue shortfall caused by a slowdown in sales tax activity with other gap-closing actions,” Cohen said.

A spokesman for the legislature’s presiding officer Richard Nicolello (R-New Hyde Park) said the majority GOP was reviewing the budget review office report.

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