“O, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive!” Sir Walter Scott (1808)

In Columnsby Hal PetersonLeave a Comment

Last week’s column “Managing other people’s money” was written to explain how next year’s Nassau County’s $131.1 billion budget first gained the attention of the New York State Comptroller’s Office; and the role played by both the Nassau Interim Finance Authority (NIFA) and the Nassau County Legislature in its certification.   

Now the rest of the story. On October 29th the Nassau County legislature (by a 17 to 2 majority) approved every dollar originally asked for, with $5.8 in “tweaks” added, all so innocuous they hardy warrant further commentary.  

In my opinion we are witnessing a complete breakdown in the oversight needed to ensure county spending is based on fact, not fiction. Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli’s the sky is falling observations hardly matter. NIFA, has been doing their “interim” thing since the year 2000, when the county was on the brink of bankruptcy, and with Democrat’s in control of the legislature spending cuts the least of their concern.

How fallacious is all of this? NIFA, the county’s control board, while approving the budget considered it (1)” fiscally precarious” increasing from a $47.5 million deficit next year, to $76.3 million in 2021, (2) suspect, if the county (as planned for this year) borrows $200 million to pay its present tax certiorari backlog liability, and (3) troublesome, if it continues to exclude any funding for salary or fringe benefit increases as required by union contracts that expired on December of 2017.”

Is anyone out there listening? A balanced budget is a fundamental requirement that cannot be avoided with smoke and mirrors. While not a law written in stone, we all know the consequences of spending beyond anyone’s means. What I have described in both columns cannot continue. Complacency no longer acceptable. My last column should have been titled “Mismanaging other people’s money.” Does anyone care?  

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