HICKSVILLE, NY (TIP): County Comptroller George Maragos on Wednesday, August 7, projected Nassau will end the year with a $5.6- million cash surplus, primarily because sales taxes are coming in higher than projected, says a Daily News report.
However, Maragos said he expected the county’s financial control board, the Nassau Interim Finance Authority, to determine that Nassau will finish 2013 with a $119.6 million deficit because the control board discounts one-time cash payments and other nonrecurring revenues. Maragos in his midyear budget report projects a surplus even though he expects the county to use operating funds, instead of borrowing, to pay $30 million in police termination costs and $35 million in property tax refunds.
County Executive Edward Mangano had proposed borrowing to pay both expenses, but a spokeswoman said Wednesday the administration is open to further discussions. “The county economy has been able to rapidly recover from superstorm Sandy and continues to grow faster than neighboring counties and the national economy,” Maragos said in a news release. “This economic growth has increased sales tax revenues . . . while the administration has kept a tight rein on costs.”
Maragos projects an overall 7.2 percent increase in sales tax revenues this year over last, compared with a less than 5 percent increase included in Nassau’s current $2.8 billion budget. But NIFA member Chris Wright said, “It’s not a surplus unless revenues, which don’t include borrowing, exceed expenditures. And it doesn’t sound like that’s going to happen. In fact, it appears that the deficit will once again be a multiple of our control-period trigger amount.”
State law calls for NIFA controls when the county’s deficit exceeds 1 percent of its budget. The county charter directs Maragos to prepare a midyear budget report by the end of July. Maragos’ spokesman Jostyn Hernandez said the report was delayed because of changing budget risks following recent borrowing decisions by NIFA and the county legislature. “George Maragos’s creative accounting cannot hide the truth that the county’s finances are in crisis,” said former Nassau County Comptroller Howard Weitzman, a Democrat challenging Republican Maragos’s re-election bid this fall. “This report is late and laughable.”