Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano has proposed axing more than 500 county jobs, a 13-day furlough and a host of deep cuts in county services in an attempt to close a $175 million budget gap identified by a state fiscal watchdog panel.
Mangano outlined his planned cuts to the $2.6 billion budget Wednesday morning after refusing to implement the alternative—raising property taxes 21 percent. The plan will be reviewed Thursday by the Nassau Interim Finance Authority (NIFA), which ordered Mangano submit a revised budget after the panel voted in January to enact a control period out of concern for the county’s finances.
“There will be a lot of pain,” Mangano told reporters in Mineola. “There’s no exemption to that pain.”
The first-term Republican, who last week lost an attempt to block NIFA from stepping in, did not immediately identify which of the county’s 9,000 employees could get pink slips by July 1. He suggested that leaders of the county’s five labor unions could lessen the blow by offering alternatives to laying off 213 workers and eliminating 307 vacant positions.
“They talk about shared pain,” said Jerry Laricchiuta, president of the Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA) Nassau Local 830, which represents about 6,500 county workers. “What’s shared? It’s always us.”
Out of about $105 million in proposed cuts, Mangano is seeking $60 million from employees, part of which he hopes to achieve by asking NIFA to freeze employee wages and longevity pay—a move that would require the six-member panel to declare a fiscal emergency. He also outlined $76 million in added revenue and savings, such as restructuring debt.
In addition, the revised budget would slash $44 million from county department budgets with the biggest cuts targeting $17 million in outside contracts and $15 million by redeploying 142 police officers, some of whom are in administrative jobs that could be replaced with civilians.
“None of this is good for the residents of this county,” said James Carver, president of the Nassau Patrolman’s Benevolent Association. He called the proposal “devastating.”
Mangano said details will soon be announced on which contracts are on the chopping block and how police consolidations would be enacted, including what he described as a “realignment of our precincts.”
He also hopes privatizing Long Island Bus and health care services at Nassau County jail would save a combined total of more than $7 million. The county is entertaining three firms to take over the bus system and has chosen Armor Correctional Health Services, Inc. to provide jail health care, pending legislative approval.
As for increasing revenue, Mangano is looking forward to collecting more traffic fines. He anticipates New York State to pass legislation by next month approving the installation of 50 more red light cameras.
The measures have been blamed on a variety of factors, including the Great Recession, a broken property tax grievance system that bleeds $100 million annually and rising employment costs.
Democratic lawmakers said Mangano made the problem worse by waiting too long to act.
“I think it’s actually going to do more harm than good,” said Legis. Kevan Abrahams (D-Hempstead). He also criticized Mangano for opting to cut social services instead of contracts to his old law firm, Uniondale-based Rivkin Radler, LLC.
The proposed cuts have already sparked marathon negotiations, with CSEA President Laricchiuta suggesting some employees might be willing to take a retirement incentive.
Mangano said: “The severity of these actions could be lessened if concessions are offered and an agreement is reached with our unions.”
-With Associated Press