Nassau County would start reopening police precincts next year in Manhasset and Levittown under budget amendments proposed by majority Republican legislators.
The GOP legislators introduced amendments this week that would markedly alter County Executive Laura Curran’s budget. The measures include a proposal for $1.6 million in funding to begin the process of reopening the Sixth Precinct in Manhasset and the Eighth in Levittown. Both were closed in 2012 during a consolidation backed by former County Executive Edward Mangano, a Republican.
Republicans, who control the legislature by an 11-8 margin, also would establish a $12.4 million contingency fund to cover costs of potential new labor deals with the county’s five major unions. Their contracts expired at the end of last year, and the Curran administration did not budget for new contract costs.
Curran, a Democrat, introduced her $3.075 billion budget for 2019 on Sept. 17. Lawmakers are expected to vote on the budget proposal Monday.
Republicans say they have found $22 million in savings, including $12 million in salary and fringe benefit cuts, to offset the cost of their new proposals.
Legislative Presiding Officer Richard Nicolello (R-New Hyde Park) said the decision not to include labor costs in Curran's original budget was "reckless."
“How could you have a budget that doesn’t anticipate labor costs? It doesn’t make any sense,” Nicolello said.
Last week, the Nassau Interim Finance Authority report detailed a potential $59 million deficit in next year’s budget. NIFA chairman Adam Barsky said the biggest risk to the budget was “what kind of damage the county legislature can do to this budget.” Barsky explained that lawmakers could hurt the budget by knocking out revenue-generating initiatives or inserting overly optimistic revenue projections.
Spokesman Michael Martino said Curran “submitted a fiscally responsible and restrained budget which, according to NIFA, presents the lowest deficit the county has faced since 2014." He said Curran will review GOP and Democratic amendments.
A NIFA spokesman declined to comment on the majority's amendment.
Republicans on Monday also removed an $8 million revenue projection to collect unpaid traffic tickets and other fees.
The administration had hoped to hire a law firm to collect late fees and additional charges incurred by vehicle lease holders from car dealerships and financial institutions that own the vehicles. But the contract lacked support in the legislature.
The county legislature is expected to vote on the budget amendments next week.
Legis. John Ferretti (R-Levittown) said reinstatement of the Eighth Precinct “was extremely important, especially in light of the fact that we’re fighting the opioid epidemic" as well as MS-13 gang violence in nearby Suffolk County communities.
Residents of his district, which includes Wantagh and Levittown, "should not have to drive all the way to Woodbury anytime they need to make a report to a detective."
North Shore residents and lawmakers had also long called for the reinstatement of the Sixth Precinct in Manhasset.
Legis. Ellen Birnbaum (D-Great Neck) said the GOP budget amendment "reflects a major step towards more effective, comprehensive policing for all Nassau County residents and shows what can be accomplished when lawmakers of all parties work together on behalf of the taxpayers."
Nassau Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder said the department "will move forward to effectively and efficiently prepare for the opening of the 6th and 8th when instructed by the county legislature and the county executive. If funding is approved, we will use that funding to start the process to prepare for the reestablishment of the precincts."
Officials from the Nassau County Detectives’ Association Inc. said the police department does not have enough detectives to staff separate squads in the Sixth and Eighth.
“It’s impossible,” said Christopher Muchow, second vice president. “They don’t have enough detectives.”
Only 317 of 360 budgeted detective positions are currently filled in Nassau County.
With Stefanie Dazio