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Laura Curran proposes $55 million in savings, new revenues

The Nassau County executive had to submit the plan after the county’s financial control board ordered $18 million in budget cuts.

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran, a noted supporter

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran, a noted supporter of mentoring, leads a keynote discussion about the impact mentoring has on transforming the life of a child on Thursday in Brookville. Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran on Thursday submitted a revised budget with $54.7 million in spending reductions and revenue hikes after the county’s financial control board imposed nearly $18 million in budget cuts.

The plan also would allow the county to boost spending for county Youth Board, NICE bus and the Department of Assessment, Curran said.

In December, the Nassau Interim Finance Authority approved the county’s budget but ordered cuts for the first time in its 17-year history.

In other years, NIFA had requested spending cuts or revenue hikes, but left the role of cutting costs to the administration or legislators. Those cuts took effect Jan. 1, when Curran took office.

Nassau was required to submit a plan to NIFA by Thursday showing how it would manage under the revised budget. Curran said in an interview that the county delivered a “balanced budget with a realistic outlook for the future. Instead of running around trying to plug holes, we found money first . . . and then selected our priorities for spending.”

In a five-page letter sent to NIFA Chairman Adam Barsky, Curran identified $25.3 million in savings. They include nearly $8 million in salaries from vacant positions. Also, officials said the county would use $6 million in asset forfeiture funds to cover the cost of police training.

Projected new revenues include $5.3 million from selling off county properties, and $8 million more from sales taxes.

Savings and new revenues will fund $1.4 million for after-school programs with the county’s Youth Board; $7.1 million for NICE, the countywide bus system; and $1.2 million for the Department of Assessment and Assessment Review Commission.

Barsky said in a statement, “NIFA has received the county’s proposal, and we appreciate its timely submission. We have spoken with the county executive’s budget officials and NIFA staff will be meeting with them tomorrow before they conduct a thorough review of the actions offered.”

Frank Moroney, a spokesman for the GOP legislative majority, called Curran’s projections for additional sales tax revenues and savings from vacancies and salaries “somewhat aggressive. We have concerns that they’re achievable.”

Moroney also said that legislators will have to review specifics of any fee increases.

Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport) said, “Overall, the county executive used the first three months to put together initiatives which basically would have required NIFA support. From our standpoint, they seem to be things that NIFA should be aware of, as well as could support.”

Curran also detailed significant risk factors and liabilities facing the county.

She wrote that borrowing to pay for property tax refunds “is strangling the budget.” The county pays about $125 million annually in debt service for those payments, Curran said.

NASSAU BUDGET CHANGES

County Executive Laura Curran on Thursday proposed a total of $54.7 million in savings and new revenues, including:

  • $9 million to discontinue the Crimes Against Property Program, staff realignments; and use of asset forfeiture funds to pay for training programs.
  • Cuts of $7.9 million from county agency budgets related to vacancies.
  • $8 million in new sales tax revenues.
  • $5.3 million from the sale of county properties.

Curran also would restore:

  • $7.1 million to NICE, the county’s bus system.
  • $1.4 million for the county Youth Board.
  • $1.2 million for the Department of Assessment and Assessment Review Commission to increase staffing and modernize the office.

Source: Nassau County

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