El presupuesto no esta balanceado, de acuerdo a Grant Thornton, entidad privada contratada por Autoridad Financiera Interina de Nassau... Deficit: $153 millones.
Y QUE DICEN NUESTROS LIDERES, DONDE ESTAN?
NIFA rejects another Nassau budget
by John Callegari
Published: October 7, 2011
At its first meeting since County Executive Ed Mangano submitted his latest iteration of the county budget, the Nassau Interim Finance Authority declared the budget proposal out of balance.
Even NIFA Chairman Ronald Stack admitted he got a feeling of déjà vu during the whole ordeal.
Mangano and NIFA have been going back and forth since June over how to accurately balance the budget. And round after round, NIFA has stated the budget proposals are not adequate under the statutes of the NIFA Act, for which the finance authority must abide.
Thursday’s meeting was no different.
Saying Mangano’s budget proposal had “a high degree of uncertainty and lack of strategic direction,” NIFA Chairman Ronald Stack led a proposal to discharge the budget without recommendation. It is now up to the county Legislature to adopt a budget that fixes the problems NIFA continues to have with the budget, such as relying on red light camera revenues or proposals like union concessions and legislative actions that would likely result in litigation.
If the Legislature does not adopt a budget acceptable to NIFA by the Oct. 30 deadline, the finance authority could reject the budget, forcing it to revise its proposal. If that new proposed budget is again rejected by NIFA, Stack said NIFA would be forced to act to correct it, although he would not elaborate on what that would mean for the county.
NIFA officials said they were “very concerned” about the year-end budget status, which they estimated would reach a deficit of $153 million. And if no other cost reduction or revenue-producing measures were put in place, that amount could balloon to a $283 million deficit by the end of 2012.
Included in Mangano’s proposal as a contingency budgetary proposal was the privatization of Nassau’s sewer system, estimated to bring in $750 million in revenue. The measure had originally been included as a major component of the budgetary plan, but was reduced to a contingency measure after NIFA rejected it as having too many uncertainties attached to it. Stack once again dismissed the measure saying it was “in no way acceptable to NIFA.”
“There should be public discussion as to whether the proposed sale of Nassau’s sewer system is good public policy,” NIFA member George Marlin said. “The public should be told how much more it will cost to flush their toilets if there is a sale. There will be a flush fee, also known as a tax, because sewage costs will no longer be based on property tax assessments and because the buyers of the sewer system will require a profit on their investment.”
But, the Mangano administration retorted, saying NIFA was doing nothing to come up with ways to solve the budget deficit problem.
“County Executive Mangano’s budget decreased year-to-year spending and implemented recommendations included in NIFA’s own Grant Thornton report,” said Tim Sullivan, Mangano’s deputy county executive for finance. “It is now confusing that NIFA rejects its own specific recommendations. If they are asking for a tax increase, they ought to just come out and say so. NIFA must offer suggestions, rather than only criticism, and join with the County in solving Nassau’s fiscal crisis.”
Along with rejecting Mangano’s most recent budget proposals, NIFA also rejected a resolution to contract with the Landtek Group to install artificial turf at baseball fields at Cantiague Park and Bay Park. That contract, worth $8.1 million, was subject to NIFA review because it was above the $5 million threshold for which all contracts must be reviewed by the state-imposed finance authority. In rejecting the measure, NIFA officials said they were not necessarily against park improvements, but installing artificial turf on the baseball fields would not generate the kind of revenue the county would need just to break even on the investment.
“This is not the time to put artificial turf on baseball fields,” Stack said. “The county should focus on getting its budget expenditures in line, not on ballfields and parking lots.”