NIFA-commissioned report suggestion could leave county short

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WOODBURY -

A suggestion on a report about Nassau's finances could actually leave the county short by about $7 million.

"It just shows how out of touch NIFA (Nassau County Interim Finance Authority) is with the realities here in Nassau County," Nassau County executive candidate Jack Martins concluded after reading the report, developed by an independent firm and then commissioned by NIFA, a state control board that oversees the county's finances.

As News 12 reported earlier this week, a slew of lawmakers, including Martins' two potential opponents in the upcoming election, along with county officials and labor leaders, slammed many of the cost-reduction suggestions outlined in the report.

But Martins found something else -- a mistake.

"They did such a great job with this report that they forgot to realize that it would actually cost the taxpayers over $7 million a year," Martins adds.

The Old Westbury Republican is talking about the very first reduction initiative outlined in the report. It suggests that if the county were to privatize its ambulance services, it could save $15 million -- a large figure as county lawmakers try to plug what NIFA says is a $54 million deficit.

But county financial documents show that Nassau's ambulance service has consistently generated yearly revenue between $22 and $25 million. And while county officials say much of that money is then used to pay for personnel, fuel, maintenance of vehicles and servicing debt, the revenue ensures that the program pays for itself as is, while leaving the service in public hands.

"They forgot that ambulances actually charge for services and they actually get $23 million back," says Martins.

In response, NIFA Chairman Adam Barsky said in a statement: "The Nassau Interim Finance Authority neither endorses nor rejects any of the recommendations made by the independent consultant. County leaders are encouraged by NIFA to seek cuts or revenue increases they deem necessary in order to reach a balanced budget."

The Mangano administration will unveil its budget proposal by Sept. 15.

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