Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano plans to axe another 700 jobs in a second round of layoffs, consolidate police precincts and require all county employees to contribute 25 percent to their health insurance to close a projected $310 million budget deficit next year.
Mangano’s proposed 2012 budget, which doesn’t include tax increases, will be submitted to the legislature Thursday for approval. Under the plan, the county workforce would decrease from 8,410 to 7,400 employees.
“My budget changes a culture of taxing and spending, which has brought us to the point we are at today,” said Mangano said Wednesday at a press conference at his office in Mineola.
“Our problems are not tax driven,” he added, “they are spending driven.”
He also proposed nixing police precinct minimum-manning requirements that are part of police union contracts and consolidating the back-end office functions of two of the county’s eight police precincts, but declined to say which precincts would be affected.
The county laid off 128 workers and eliminated a total of 300 positions earlier this summer to close this year’s budget gap after the Nassau Interim Finance Authority, a state fiscal watchdog, declared a fiscal emergency and froze county employee wages. The panel recently told the administration it must revise its prior budget plan proposed for next year before the board can approve it.
Mangano expects to release a department list of layoffs in October, although the cuts and police consolidations require county legislative approval along with the overall budget. Union officials balked at another round of layoffs.
“We are protected by our contract, and simply cannot be mandated to pay 25 percent into our health insurance costs,” Jerry Laricchiuta, president of the Civil Service Employees Association Nassau Local 830, said in a statement. “We are already understaffed with the lowest workforce since the 1950s, and will in no way be able to function as a county with 710 fewer jobs.”
James Carver, president of the Nassau County Police Benevolent Association, which represents the department’s uniformer patrol officers, said more cuts would “compromise public safety.”
“You are seeing a destruction of the police department at the hands of this administration,” he said.
Nassau’s budget crisis has widely been attributed to a combination of the Great Recession, unsustainable county employee union contracts and a broken tax assessment system that has bled an estimated $100 million annually.
Mangano said without the cuts, the county would be required to raise taxes 39 percent. Nassau residents already pay some of the highest taxes in the nation.
Democrats in the legislative minority blamed Mangano for the fiscal mess.
“As he proposes layoffs that could affect vital police protection and other services we provide our residents, Mr. Mangano continues to pad the payroll with his cronies and to retain politically connected law firms,” Minority Leader Diane Yatauro (D-Glen Cove) said in a statement. “No one has helped to ‘spin finances out of control’ more than Mr. Mangano.”
-With Timothy Bolger