Nassau's Budget Struggle / NIFA: Woes to worsen without fix
A day before Nassau County is expected to submit a new
spending blueprint to a state oversight board, the head of the panel warned
yesterday that the county's budget problems could worsen unless officials take
With County Executive Thomas Suozzi threatening to lay off as many as 640
workers and cut social service programs, Frank Zarb, chairman of the Nassau
Interim Finance Authority, said, "The county is really going to have to do some
quick stepping to stay ahead of the wave."
Today, Suozzi is scheduled to give NIFA an updated report on a 4-year plan
he crafted last year to help the county reverse its budget deficits.
Administration officials have released few details ahead of today's submission,
but sources familiar with the report said the county executive will present
The first case assumes Nassau will achieve the budget goals Suozzi set out
last year, but the second calls for layoffs and deep program cuts if the county
fails to cement two key elements of Suozzi's recovery plan.
Suozzi hinged much of the county's success on a proposal to save $25
million by creating a sewer and storm water authority and a separate proposal
to save $35 million by garnering concessions from police unions.
Both initiatives have stalled. In Albany, state lawmakers who would have to
approve the sewer authority have given it little support, while at home,
Suozzi has failed to persuade union leaders to agree to givebacks.
Speaking before NIFA members at a meeting in Uniondale yesterday, Presiding
Officer Judith Jacobs (D-Woodbury), head of the legislature's Democratic
majority, said she was still lobbying state lawmakers to pass legislation to
create the sewer authority, which would generate savings by restructuring
"We have our work cut out for us," Jacobs said.
NIFA board member Richard Kessel said he and his fellow board members want
to see a plan that ensures the county will be able to balance its books even if
some of Suozzi's budget proposals fail.
"We're going to want to see how the county plans to balance its budget
assuming the worst, not the best," Kessel said. "What we want to see are bold