October 30, 2008
Nassau County Legislator Francis X. Becker and the Republican Delegation of the Nassau County Legislature called on Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi to trim his $3.1 Billion proposed 2009 Budget. The Republican legislators wanted to eliminate his proposed 3.9% property tax increase, make good on promises to add detectives to fight the surging heroin and gang problems, and to maintain funding for vital youth programs.
Times are tough in Nassau County, and Republican Legislators have been warning Suozzi for years that the county spending was too excessive. The current downturn in the economy has only exasperated a desperate situation.
The County Executive’s proposed 2009 budget amounts to $3.1 Billion and includes a 3.9% property tax increase. Legislator Becker and the Republican Delegation had introduced amendments to the budget which would eliminate the property tax increase, restore funding for projects and programs, and prevent needless security risks created by the proposed mergers of county and police department functions.
Legislator Becker challenged the County Executive to administer a 5% cut in the county’s salary expenditures. “We have all been forced to tighten our belts and stretch our dollars further; Mr. Suozzi must now do the same,” said Becker. “I proposed to cut the legislative budget by 5% and there is no reason this cannot be done county-wide.” Salary cuts can be made by eliminating “vacant-but-funded” positions which have become a staple in Suozzi budgets.
“There’s not another bail out in sight for Nassau County. Now is the time to take action to cut current spending. Now is not the time to raise taxes for anybody. It is regrettable that our County Executive’s first instinct in a budget crisis is to raise taxes,” said Becker. A 5% cut in county-wide department spending will add up to $22 million in savings.
On October 15, 2008, the Nassau County Comptroller announced that the County Executive’s budget contained $82 million in “at risk” revenue items. “This means that, despite the appearance of a balanced budget, we have an enormous amount of cutting to do next year as well,” warned Becker.The Republican’s amendments would have resulted in a total savings of over $38 million and, most importantly, eliminated Suozzi’s 3.9% property tax increase (which is reported to generate $31.5 million in revenue.) “I think our suggestions were thoughtful and fair,” said Becker. The added savings in the Republican’s plan would be put in a Contingency account to help reduce next year’s budget burden. “The spending must stop now. ”