The state oversight board in charge of Nassau’s finances again rejected the county’s multi-year spending plan, calling for the removal of $225 million in “questionable items” for 2012 alone.
“We did not find that plan to be sufficient,” Nassau Interim Finance Authority (NIFA) chairman Ronald Stack said at an early morning session at the Nassau County Bar Association in Mineola Friday. “The county responded and did not see to the directive of NIFA.”
The six-member board unanimously approved the measure rejecting the county’s July 28 plan. They sought to “prescribe the format of the plan that will be included in the county executive’s multi-year plan,” calling for the cuts to occur.
Among the changes singled out was eliminating $150 million Nassau hopes to obtain through privatizing the county sewer system.
NIFA board member George Marlin said any deal to privatize the sewers is “not a slam dunk” since there are no guarantees that a deal will be reached for the amount stated, if at all. “One-shots do not eliminate structural deficits and excess reliance on them is frowned upon by rating agencies,” he said.
“We want it out, or if you leave it in we want the $150 million in contingencies in case that $150 million does not forth come,” Stack said, explaining that the contingencies must be “realistic,” as in revenues accepted under general accounting practices. Both the state legislature and Governor Andrew Cuomo would have to approve any privatization of the public sewer system.
“The disturbing part of it is even if it were able to be achieved ... it’s a one-shot -- it’s $150 million that doesn’t reoccur in 2013. It doesn’t really solve the structural balance of the county,” the NIFA chairman said.
The board is also asking for the elimination of a projected $23 million in revenue from red light cameras. “We’re not going to accept that as revenue,” Stack said.
NIFA also directed the county to increase the amount it estimates to pay out in property tax refunds from $50 million to $70 million, which was referred to as a more “realistic” number. Additional details are also being requested on $33 million in labor savings, which the board wants itemized.
“None of this is a surprise to the county,” Stack said, who recently issued a joint statement with County Executive Ed Mangano saying that they planned to work together to achieve solutions to the county’s fiscal problems.
“I believe the statement was genuine,” the chairman said.
While the NIFA board is not “recommending solutions” to the county, they are “continuing discussions” with the administration Stack said. “We’re so close to the budget we’re not going [to have] any secret solutions.”
Nassau’s 2012-15 multi-year plan must be submitted by Mangano on Sept. 15.