The Nassau County legislature voted to adopt a 2014 budget with an 8.1% structural deficit Monday afternoon.
The 10 Republican legislators voted in favor of the budget proposed by Republican county executive Edward Mangano and the nine Democratic legislators voted against it.
In testimony to the legislature before the vote, Republican comptroller George Maragos said the budget was "problematic." He said that he was recommending a change to the budget's proposed $230 million in borrowing in 2014 to pay off possible property tax appeal judgments.
Instead, Maragos recommended that the government find $50 million for pay as you go funding for these judgments and borrow $50 million for the judgments.
Several Democratic legislators voiced concern about the proposed budget.
Including the $230 million in borrowing for property tax appeals would make the total gap $260 million in 2014, Democratic legislator Robert Troiano said. This would be worse than the level of 2009, he said. "I am quite certain that all independent financial analysts would be concerned with a quarter billion dollar structural gap," he said.
The $230 million is the maximum that would be needed to be borrowed for property tax appeals, deputy county executive for finances Tim Sullivan said. It is unlikely that all the cases will be ready to be settled in 2014, he said.
One Democratic legislator questioned the Republican assumptions that there will need to be only $30 million a year in property tax appeal payments from 2015 onwards.
The budget includes $1.679 billion for the general fund, $2.79 billion for the five major operating funds (including the general fund), and $178 million for the sewer and storm water resources district. These figures exclude interdepartmental transfers.
The budget for the five major operating funds allots 14% to the payment of debt service.
Including interdepartmental transfers, the five major operating funds see a 1% increase in spending in the adopted budget, to $3.207 billion.
Nassau County adopted a capital budget and four-year capital plan in June. This anticipated total capital spending to be $568 million in 2013, $628 million in 2014, $185 million in 2015, and $137 million in 2016. The county's biggest capital project is for the reconstruction of the Bay Park Sewage Treatment Plan, which was significantly damaged by Hurricane Sandy.
The county anticipates the overwhelming majority of the funding for its capital projects to come through the sale of general obligation bonds.
Nassau County is rated A by Fitch Ratings, A-plus by Standard & Poor's and A2 by Moody's Investors Service.
Nassau County is located on Long Island and has about 1.35 million people.