The Nassau Interim Finance Authority has declared that the 2022 county budget is “out of balance” after the County Legislature voted to cut up to $100 million in fees and increase sales tax projections.
At a meeting last Thursday reviewing the $3.5 billion budget passed Oct. 18 by the Republican-controlled Nassau County Legislature, NIFA said the county took three actions possibly leading to long-term fiscal unbalance, including a projected deficit of up to $148 million in 2022.
A report from the NIFA board, read by Executive Director Evan Cohen, said, “Those three actions were legislation that reduces or eliminates certain fees, the administration’s decision to reduce the property tax levy by $70 million and placement of all excess 2021 sales tax revenue into a restricted special revenue fund.”
All 11 Republican county legislators, who make up the majority, voted for the budget along with amendments that call for eliminating various fees and cut property taxes by an additional $50 million. The eight members of the minority Democratic caucus abstained from voting, according to a news release.
County officials said Nassau Executive Laura Curran, who is running for re-election in November, has until Friday to sign or veto the budget. If she vetoes the amendments, the Legislature would have seven days to attempt an override, needing 13 votes. NIFA, which oversees county finance and must approve the 2022 county budget, would not need to take any action until Curran’s decision.
Regarding Curran’s budget proposal released last month, which included a $70 million property tax cut, county spokesman Michael Fricchione said the proposal takes taxpayers’ financial situation into consideration.
“County Executive Curran proposed a thoughtful, balanced budget that delivers significant tax relief to every resident hard-hit by the pandemic, not the same old political talking points based on made-up revenue projections that the Majority and Ed Mangano used to drive our County’s finances into the ground,” Fricchione said in an email to Blank Slate Media, referring to former County Executive Edward Mangano.
Last week Curran said at a Lakeville Estates Civic Association candidate forum that Nassau County can soon begin to emerge from NIFA oversight.
The NIFA report read by Cohen also said that the rise in sales tax revenue projected by the Republicans could be vulnerable if economic activity slows.
“In conclusion, currently we find the adopted budget to be out of balance,” the NIFA report said.
In an email to Blank Slate Media, Chris Boyle, spokesman for the Legislature’s Republicans, said, “We are not surprised that the Democrat-controlled state oversight board opposes the Republican Majority’s efforts to provide financial relief to residents, including cutting taxes and fees. For four years, the NIFA board has been a partisan entity that has provided cover for County Executive Curran’s policy of overtaxing our residents.”