A file photo of Steve Levy in Melville. (August 17,...

A file photo of Steve Levy in Melville. (August 17, 2011) Credit: Danielle Finkelstein

The Suffolk legislature's top budget analyst warned Wednesday that County Executive Steve Levy's $2.7 billion spending plan for 2012, even if adopted intact, could leave his successor without cash by April.

Gail Vizzini, director of budget review, said the county has been "making payroll by the skin of our teeth" for months. She said that if Suffolk does not run out of cash by year's end, "it will likely happen by April 2012."

Vizzini said Levy's budget underestimates expenses and overestimates revenue by $120 million. She noted continuing structural budget problems including the lack of recurring revenue, cuts and delays in state aid payments and the new state property tax cap.

Those budget holes, Vizzini said, are in addition to Levy's controversial proposals to save money by laying off 700 county workers, close the county nursing home and shift costs for students who attend community college outside Suffolk onto the towns. Some of the initiatives may have difficulty winning support, legislative officials say.

"I don't' know if there are enough solutions to put Humpty-Dumpty back together again," Vizzini said Tuesday at a budget committee meeting in Hauppauge. "The next county executive will have to take a step back with the legislature and decide what we are not going to do any more."

"We disagree," said Levy spokesman Mark Smith. "The budget is balanced. Perhaps it is the tough decisions and real, recurring savings [in the Levy budget] . . . that has legislators nervous. The presentation sounds like the [budget review office] is setting the stage for the legislature to deplete," Suffolk's rainy-day fund and to raise taxes.

Babylon Supervisor Steve Bellone, the Democratic county executive candidate, called the Levy spending plan "a head-in-the-sand budget that punts on the tough decisions, leaving it for legislators and employees to figure out. The terrible fiscal condition is only exacerbated by the lack of leadership from the county executive's office."

Angie Carpenter, the GOP county executive candidate, said, "It's a serious problem, but it's something that is manageable." Carpenter, who deals with cash-flow issues as the county treasurer, noted that Suffolk borrowed from its reserve funds in February when it ran short of cash to meet payroll.

Comptroller Joseph Sawicki said the county is considering asking the Legislature for the power to borrow against unpaid state aid if the county is in danger of running out of cash.

Levy's top budget aide said the county has experienced cash woes since the economic downturn. "The budget has no impact on the cash situation -- the problem is getting money from New York State," said Eric Naughton, deputy county executive for finance. "If people are concerned with cash it makes sense to control expenses."

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