Nassau County, N.Y., Executive Edward Mangano Wednesday announced $121.2 million of budget cuts and “hundreds” of layoffs to help balance the $2.6 billion budget for fiscal 2011.
Mangano said the spending reductions are necessary to avoid property tax increases after the Nassau County Interim Finance Authority decided that the county must use operating funds rather than bond proceeds to pay property tax refunds. Without the spending cuts, the county would be forced to raise property taxes by 21.5%, Mangano said.
NIFA in late January pegged the county’s fiscal 2011 deficit at $176 million, which is more than 1% of the $2.6 billion spending plan. That projected deficit prompted the agency to impose a control period.
The county on Tuesday will submit to NIFA a revised financial plan detailing how it will address the entire $176 million deficit, according to Mangano spokeswoman Katie Grilli-Robles.
The authority’s board is set to meet two days later on March 24 to review Mangano’s revised plan. Chairman Ronald Stark did not respond to requests for comment regarding Mangano’s announcement to cut spending.
“Since the last thing Nassau families need in these tough economic times is a double-digit property tax increase, I will submit a revised financial plan next week that cuts county spending by over $121 million,” Mangano said in a statement. “These cuts will affect every area of the county and the services we provide. That’s unfortunate, yet necessary in the face of NIFA’s decision to change accounting practices and create a paper deficit.”
The $121.2 million of spending cuts includes $50.5 million of savings from employee layoffs and closing vacant positions. Another $10 million would come from freezing employee wages set to increase on April 1, though NIFA’s board would need to approve such a move.
Across-the-board budget cuts would produce $40 million of savings, including reducing contractual expenses and restructuring the police department. Mangano also calculates $20 million less in property tax refunds than projected by NIFA.
A control period allows the authority to weigh in on borrowings and new contracts, freeze wages, and request new fiscal plans. Nassau contested NIFA’s control period but a judge on Monday ruled against the county’s temporary injunction to stop NIFA’s oversight.
The county has a history of borrowing to pay for property tax refunds. While Mangano’s original budget continued that practice, he also pledged to end such bonding in 2013.