Marc Herbst, executive director of the Long Island Contractors' Association.

Marc Herbst, executive director of the Long Island Contractors' Association. Credit: Barry Sloan

Daily Point

Herbst named Suffolk rep for MTA board

Gov. Kathy Hochul has chosen Marc Herbst, who heads the Long Island Contractors’ Association, as her nominee to represent Suffolk County on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority board, a Hochul spokesman confirmed to The Point.

Herbst, who previously was a five-term member of the State Assembly, was one of Suffolk County Executive Ed Romaine’s three choices, which also included Mitch Pally, formerly with the Long Island Builders Institute, and Mea Knapp, Islip’s assistant town attorney.

Hochul called Herbst a “seasoned leader with extensive knowledge of the transportation sector.”

“He will be a strong voice for riders and help to ensure the MTA continues to provide excellent service,” Hochul said in a statement.

Herbst said he would prioritize “bringing safety and efficiency to the transportation system.”

“I look forward to using my years of experience in the transportation field to serve in this position,” Herbst told The Point.

And that, Romaine said, is what he was looking for when he recommended Herbst.

“I nominated Marc because he has extensive experience and knowledge of Suffolk County’s infrastructure and has always understood the needs of our residents,” Romaine said in a statement.

Herbst’s nomination requires State Senate confirmation. The State Senate also will have to confirm Sammy Chu, who would be one of Hochul’s MTA board picks. Chu served as the Suffolk MTA board representative under former County Executive Steve Bellone. His old term is due to expire next week, on Feb. 29, but his new term won’t begin until he is reconfirmed. No confirmation hearings have been scheduled yet.

Chu told The Point that once the two are confirmed, they’ll be able to collectively give Long Island a greater voice on transit and transportation issues. Herbst and Chu have both cited similar key Suffolk priorities, like an MTA train yard at the Lawrence Aviation site in Port Jefferson Station.

“I think the governor selecting Marc, in addition to my appointment, says a lot about her commitment to getting things done on Long Island,” Chu said.

— Randi F. Marshall

Pencil Point

On edge


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Final Point

What’s next for NUMC

A long-awaited report from consultants for the Nassau Interim Finance Authority spells out in grim detail just how precarious the Nassau University Medical Center’s financial footing is.

Even before the report officially emerged, it was sparking intense debate about the next steps, as the state, the county, the hospital and its unions, and NIFA are all going to have an opinion on how the situation is handled. And the stakes are high — for Gov. Kathy Hochul, who has said the hospital is a priority; for Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman, whose county is on the hook for the hospital’s bonds; for NIFA, the county fiscal watchdog; and for the powerful Civil Service Employees Association, or CSEA, the hospital’s union.

NUMC’s cash level as of Feb. 3 stood at $19 million, according to NIFA’s consultant, Alvarez & Marsal The minimum operating cash levels should remain above $15 million, the consultant said.

But by the end of March, the consultants estimated, the cash balance is expected to fall to as low as $1.3 million. And by the end of April, it could cross into negative territory, to -$3.9 million. Even in the best of circumstances, where NUMC and its public benefits corporation, Nassau Health Care Corp., see potential upsides and new revenue between now and then, the best-case scenario puts the hospital’s end-of-April cash at a still-too-low $13.3 million.

That leaves a very short timeline for the state and the county to hammer out a rescue plan.

NUMC has asked the state for $125 million, claiming it is owed money from past funding streams, even though those pots of money were temporary and meant to eventually run out.

All of this comes on top of the more than $300 million NUMC owes to the New York Health Insurance Program after it failed to make payments for its employees’ health insurance.

Whether or not Gov. Kathy Hochul provides NUMC with an infusion of cash remains to be seen, though sources have said if she does, it could come with plenty of strings attached. Observers said that could include mandatory changes to management or board governance, a longer-term plan, and more.

But there are a lot of moving pieces for Hochul and other elected officials to consider. Nassau County officials have suggested the hospital is the state’s responsibility, but the county is the backer of the hospital’s bonds. That’s one key reason NIFA remains so interested in NUMC’s fiscal stability.

Add in worries from CSEA, which just came to a new contract agreement with the county last summer. NUMC’s inability to pay its health insurance arrears — and concern over whether the hospital can handle its own payroll — leave NUMC’s employees, and lifetime health coverage for its retirees, in limbo.

Time is short. The state budget is due April 1 — and if NUMC doesn’t get more cash by the end of that month, it could be bleeding badly.

— Randi F. Marshall

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