Nassau County, NY, cutting 200 jobs to close deficit

Reuters News
Posted: Jul 23, 2012 5:24 PM
Nassau County, NY, cutting 200 jobs to close deficit

(Reuters) - New York's cash-poor Nassau County will cut 200 jobs and $19 million of capital improvements to close a $45 million budget deficit without raising property taxes, County Executive Edward Mangano said on Monday.

The plan by Mangano, a Republican, also calls for the cancellation of $3.8 million of discretionary contracts and $12.2 million of purchases by county departments, and the end of evening hours at the county's social services and traffic violations agencies.

Fiscal problems for Nassau County, a wealthy commuting suburb east of New York City, came to the fore in 2000 when the state created a control board to prevent a bankruptcy.

A flawed property tax system left the county on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars of refunds, which it repeatedly has borrowed to pay.

On July 6, a judge ordered Nassau to start paying $41 million of property tax refunds within 60 days or risk having twice that amount seized from county bank accounts, potentially halting services.

Nassau County, which has approximately 7,000 employees, stands to save $10 million from the latest round of job cuts. Only 61 public workers accepted an early retirement incentive program, the deadline for which ended on Friday, a union spokesman said.

On Friday, Mangano submitted to the legislature a list of new fees and increased charges. They are expected to be approved on Monday.

The list includes charges for home alarms that go off when there is no emergency and a $7,500 assessment on patients who need to be transported by helicopter, said Mike Florio, a spokesman for the Democratic minority party in the legislature.

Enough's Enough
Walter E. Williams

Some 99 percent of home alarms in the last three years in the county were false, according to county's documents.

The county is also planning to double the administrative fees on traffic tickets to $30, and hike fees for starting a home improvement business, registering a for-hire vehicle, and certifying automatic teller machines. A new fee of $100 would be imposed on vendors.

An estimate of the total revenue the higher fees would raise was not available, and it might not be issued until August 6, when the full legislature is expected to vote on them.

(Reporting by Hilary Russ and Joan Gralla; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)