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NIFA approves Nassau County's $3.5B budget for 2022

NIFA Chairman Adam Barsky and other board members

NIFA Chairman Adam Barsky and other board members said Nassau County Executive-elect Bruce Blakeman will inherit a balanced fiscal plan. Credit: Newsday/Steve Pfost

Members of the Nassau Interim Finance Authority on Tuesday night voted to approve Nassau County's $3.5 billion budget for 2022.

The vote was 5-0.

But NIFA Chairman Adam Barsky told Newsday he had warned Republican leaders that if they moved forward with steep cuts in county fees, the administration of GOP County Executive-elect Bruce Blakeman would have to find ways to make up for the revenue loss.

In October, Curran vetoed GOP-sponsored bills to cut real estate and traffic fees by more than $100 million annually.

Majority Republicans later failed to muster the votes to override the vetoes.

Blakeman will inherit what NIFA officials called a "balanced" fiscal plan from Curran, a Democrat whom Blakeman defeated in the county executive's race last month.

NIFA's approval of Curran's 2022 spending plan came after months of sparring between Democratic and Republican county legislators over the county budget.

"We're going to approve the budget that was presented to us, as it's balanced," Barsky said Tuesday.

"The County Executive vetoed the amendments by the Legislature and they failed to override, therefore, there's no reason not to approve it," Barsky said.

NIFA Executive Director Evan Cohen said Curran's 2022 budget contained a potential shortfall of $39 million.

"The size of the risks in 2022 are the lowest in several years," Cohen said at the meeting.

In the midst of the county executive's race, GOP lawmakers attempted to eliminate a $55 public safety fee for traffic tickets and a $355 fee to verify a property’s section, block and lot.

The GOP also moved to reduce a $300 mortgage recording fee to $50.

Curran's 2022 budget includes a $70 million cut in the property tax levy.

Republicans had proposed a $120 million tax cut that Curran vetoed.

Blakeman, member of the Hempstead Town Council, campaigned against the fees and supported the $120 million tax levy cut.

In a statement to Newsday Tuesday, Blakeman did not address the fee issue.

"I am working closely with the County Legislature on a variety of pressing issues and look forward to solving issues important to our taxpayers," Blakeman said.

Barsky said he has spoken with both Blakeman and legislative presiding officer Richard Nicolello (R-New Hyde Park) about whether Republicans would try to enact the fee cuts in 2022.

"Neither has committed to do one thing or another as of yet," Barsky said of Blakeman and Republican lawmakers.

"I did explain to both of them that it really doesn't matter, because after we approve the budget, if there are things that take place post-budget that put the county out of balance, then NIFA will expect and require them to make necessary adjustments to account for whatever the change is."

Barsky continued: "Whatever it is, if it puts a hole in the budget they're expected to fix that hole."

Asked for comment about NIFA's decision to pass the budget, Mike Fricchione, a Curran spokesman, said only: "The County Executive's budget is awesome."

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