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GOP LEGISLATORS PRESENT BUDGET AND
4-YEAR PLAN MODIFICATIONS
The Republican members of the Nassau County Legislature have presented an alternative budget making modifications to the budget and 4-year plan submitted by the County Executive. The modifications represent $102,663,743 in actions and address the areas of concern expressed by the Nassau Interim Finance Authority (NIFA) that put $89.7 million of items in the County Executive’s FY2001 budget at risk.
"The proposed modifications to the budget and plan present structural reforms that will provide real savings to the taxpayers of this County while maintaining essential services," said Minority Leader Peter J. Schmitt (R-Massapequa). "We must take control of the spiraling costs of labor otherwise this fiscal crisis will continue unabated."
If adopted, the budget would implement structural reforms in reducing labor costs by demanding that the Executive undertake discretionary management initiatives e.g. civilianization to reduce employee costs. NIFA has pointed out that the County Executive has the ability to take these discretionary management actions without union consent. In addition, the plan calls for the County Executive to negotiate wage freezes for FY2001 and beyond. The plan rejects the proposed public safety employee contracts.
The budget begins to straighten the Croatian roadmap of funding for public safety by initiating the gradual elimination of the General Fund subsidy to the Police Headquarters Fund. The proposed alternative budget proposes a revenue increase in both the Police District and Headquarters Funds. The revenue increase of $23 million represents to the average homeowner who receives County Police services an increase of $41.55 or 5% of the County tax bill.
The budget accepts the mergers proposed in the FY2001 budget with one exception. The caucus believes that the Youth Board should remain an independent entity to ensure its success in serving the residents of the County. The plan includes additional mergers beyond that recommended by the County Executive. The plan does not include the layoff of union employees due to savings realized from the early retirement program. The modifications proposed include:
Any structural change that will occur in the County’s budget must come from reducing labor costs. A wage freeze for FY2001 would save the County a substantial sum of money and would permit the County to bring revenues in line with expenses. The CSEA wage increase for FY2001 will cost the County $8.6 million.
Discretionary Management Initiatives
It has become clear though discussions with NIFA, the Democratic Majority and the County Executive’s Office that certain discretionary management initiatives can be undertaken without union approval. The caucus, therefore, recommends that the following immediately occur:
Day Care Block Grant
The County recently has been notified by the State that it will receive additional block grant aid for day care. This grant is reoccurring in nature.
No Lag Pay Back
The alternative budget proposed by the Republican caucus does not include layoffs. Therefore, the threat of having to pay back the entire lag payroll is removed.
It is the position of the caucus that the fund balance should be utilized to prepay the County’s Empire Plan insurance premiums for FY2001.
Motor Vehicle Fines
The Board of Judges will be requested to consider this issue.
The County Legislature’s Rules Committee passed this legislation at its October 11, 2000 meeting. It moves to the full Legislature and passage is anticipated.
Early Retirement Additional Savings
Upon analysis, the early retirement savings exceeded FY2001 projections by $23 million. Therefore, savings in the budget with a minimum of a 10 percent backfill of positions, realize significant savings.
Eliminate Long Island Bus Subsidy
Nassau County, by contract, provides a subsidy to MTA Long Island Bus. In addition, Nassau County provides capital funding for the agency.
MTA Long Island Bus is a subsidiary corporation of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA). The MTA controls the entire operation of LI Bus from procurement policy, route structure, hiring, labor contracts to fare structure, yet the MTA provides a limited subsidy to the operation. In addition, the MTA keeps all of the revenues generated by Long Island Bus, including fare revenue and advertising revenue.
Nassau County’s subsidy in 1999 to Long Island Bus represented 25.9% of their operating budget. In comparison, New York City’s operating subsidy to the Transit Authority was 3.6% of their operating budget. We reiterate our concern that the MTA must be more than just the logo on the side of the buses operated in Nassau County, but a full partner in the operation of LI Bus.
It is therefore recommended that the Administration immediately enter into negotiations with the MTA to renegotiate its contract for the operations of Long Island Bus. The MTA budget runs on a similar calendar cycle, as the County’s so now is the time to act. The MTA should take complete responsibility for the operating subsidy of Long Island Bus. Nassau County in the interim could continue to provide a local match to the agencies capital program to ensure continuance of its progressive policy to purchase clean air buses and provide funding for ABLE Ride.
The Croatian roadmap of funding for the Police Department is difficult to follow. To begin to straighten out that map the caucus is recommending a revenue increase in Police District of $10 million and a revenue increase in Police Headquarters of $13 million. This action will begin to reduce the subsidy to the Police Headquarters Fund from the stressed General Fund thereby putting the Headquarters Fund on a pay-as-you go business-like basis.
This tax increase represents a 5% tax increase in County property taxes. The average homeowner who does not have a village police department will see a tax increase of $41.55.
The Commissioner of the Department has recommended the elimination of non-essential discretionary contracts
Reallocation of NIFA Aid
The caucus recommends the reallocation of NIFA aid from the Police Headquarters and Police District Funds to the General Fund
Privatize Office of Cultural Development
The caucus strongly recommends that an RFP be issued for the privatization of OCD.
Merge Minority Affairs
The caucus recommends the merger of the Offices of Minority Affairs, CASA, Affirmative Action and Women’s Services into one cohesive department
Restore Cornell Cooperative Extension
The Extension provides valuable services to the residents of the County.
No Youth Board Merger
State regulation prohibits the elimination of an Executive Director for the Youth Board. We believe that an effective Youth Board must stand on its own.