Report: Nassau County facing possible $334M deficit, could require drastic layoffs, tax hike
A new report looking at the pandemic's impact on Nassau County's finances shows that higher taxes and thousands of job cuts could be on the way.
The Nassau Interim Finance Authority released the report, which says the county is facing a possible $334 million deficit for 2020, and without a drastic reimagining of how county services are provided, the board says there could be up to 2,900 layoffs and a property tax hike of 60%.
Other contributing factors from the pandemic included a sharp drop in sales tax revenue and fewer collected red-light camera fees.
When Nassau Executive Laura Curran make her State of the County address in April, she promised not to raise taxes. She reiterated that pledge Wednesday, and says she is still calling on the federal government to help cash-strapped states and local municipalities.
"We are not in a position where we can decimate county services, do layoffs or raise property taxes. We're just not in a position to make any of those draconian measures happen," says Curran. " We are waiting for help from the federal government and I am lobbying hard for that help, for that revenue recovery."
But Curran says there is a chance that federal money might not come, especially with the Senate on vacation. So next week, Curran says she's meeting with NIFA and members of county Legislature to discuss possible refinancing of the county's debt.
The fiscal board says that plan could save taxpayers around $400 million over the next three years, because NIFA has a better credit rating than the county.
That idea has already been rejected once by the Republican-led Legislature over fears it would extend NIFA's control.
"The county's fiscal problems require calm, level-headed leadership, not NIFA's 'the sky is falling' approach," says Presiding Officer Richard Nicolello.
Officials in both Nassau and Suffolk are still appealing for federal relief, but if that doesn't happen, NIFA chairman says "they must act now."