Nassau County will end fiscal year 2011 with a budget deficit of $50.4 million and immediate steps should be taken to close the gap this year, according to a report released by the comptroller.
County Comptroller George Maragos, a Republican, released his report on the budgetary deficit at a news conference Friday, about a month later than expected because the results have yet to be audited.
He said the deficit could largely have been avoided if the Democratic minority in the county legislature and the Nassau Interim Finance Authority, a control board that took control of the county’s finances last year, approved $43 million in borrowing to pay for property tax settlement refunds.
“We are now recommending that the administration assume that ongoing cooperation from the legislative minority and NIFA will not be occurring,” Maragos told reporters. “Borrowing from property tax refunds will not be approved.”
The deficit is about $7 million higher than the $42.8 deficit Maragos projected earlier this year.
Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano, also a Republican, likewise placed blame on Democrats and their unwillingness to provide three needed votes to the legislative GOP majority for approval of Mangano’s bonding plan to close the budget gap.
“The Democrats created Nassau’s fiscal mess and have refused to provide the votes necessary to assist the county in fiscal recovery since losing their power over the Legislature,” Mangano said in a statement. “I am certain every resident is nauseated at the Democrats thinly-veiled attempt to create fiscal chaos for their own political advantage. “
Republicans hold a 10-9 advantage in the legislature. A supermajority of 13 votes is needed to approve borrowing.
“The facts are that Ed Mangano has not achieved the projected savings he promised,” Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams (D-Hempstead) said in a statement. “He has consistently begged the legislature over and over to bail him out by borrowing and creating more and more deficits for years to come.”
In his report, Maragos also pointed to $80.1 million in lower revenues than budgeted, due to the state’s “inaction” on adding another 50 red light cameras and lower than budgeted red light camera fees, which totaled $33.8 million.
He also projected a $45 million year-end budgetary deficit in 2012, according to preliminary mid-year financial projections.
But it wasn’t all gloomy.
The comptroller’s office said sales tax is up about 5 percent, up from Maragos’ projection of 3 percent.
“Managing to close a $30 or $45 million projected deficit at this stage of the year should not be an insurmountable task,” Maragos said.