Nassau County shows fiscal strides with new budget, NIFA says

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Nassau County, New York’s $3.11 billion 2020 budget represents progress toward achieving structural balance despite containing nearly $50 million in risks, according to the state fiscal control board that approved the plan.

The Nassau Interim Finance Authority board of directors unanimously passed the county’s spending plan last week while also projecting a $47.8 million deficit next year. The estimated budget gap is the lowest Nassau County has faced in many years, according to NIFA.

“We believe that this financial plan represents incremental progress and lower risks than we have historically seen,” NIFA Chairman Adam Barsky said in a statement. “Our ultimate goal remains guiding the County out of a control period and establishing long-term financial stability.”

NIFA, which has controlled Nassau’s finances since 2011, noted in a report that the projected budget shortfall does not factor in potential unbudgeted labor costs that could result from the next round of collective bargaining with unions, or the county’s plans to borrow $200 million to fund tax refund challenges. The agency cautioned that deficits could rise to $74 million in 2021, $140.6 million in 2022 and $190.3 million in 2023.

The adopted budget is similar to an initial $3.56 billion proposal Nassau County Executive Laura Curran proposed in September that keeps property taxes flat for a second straight year with targeted infrastructure investments. The finalized budget projects a 3.1% growth in sales tax collections, which includes an expected receipt of $14.6 million in incremental revenue generated from Internet purchases by merchants without a physical presence in New York State.

Christine Geed, a spokeswoman for Curran, said in a statement that the county executive "is committed to exercising spending discipline while ensuring residents continue to receive the efficient and high-quality services they deserve. We are appreciative that NIFA recognizes our efforts in fiscal responsibility.”

Nassau County is slated to issue $130 million of general improvement bonds in December to refinance bond anticipation notes sold in 2018 for the purposes of financing various sewer system improvements. The Long Island county’s general obligation bonds are rated A2 by Moody’s Investors Service, A by Fitch Ratings and A-plus by S&P Global Ratings. New York State’s sixth-most populous county has around $2.4 billion of outstanding GO debt, according to Fitch.

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Budgets County of Nassau, NY Nassau County Interim Finance Authority New York