Nassau County Executive Thomas Gulotta announced he is cutting taxpayer spending by over $30 million over the next 18 months.
The measures include the combination of the Department of General Services with the Department of Parks and Recreation, eliminating 139 vacant county positions and additional consolidation and cuts in several county departments.
"I am prepared to take whatever steps are necessary to eliminate the budget shortfall and the budgetary structural imbalance," said Gulotta in a written statement.
Democrats support Gulotta's efforts to consolidate the two departments, however Minority Leader Judy Jacobs (D-Woodbury) said she thinks this move should have been made long ago.
She said in a written statement, "He shouldn't have waited for the bottom to fall out. If the problem is as real as we know it is, he should have been proposing these consolidations and cuts every year."
Gulotta attempted to consolidate the Department of General Services with the Department of Parks and Recreation in 1994-95, but without legislative support the plan could not proceed, according to Dave Vieser, Gulotta spokesman.
However, at Gulotta's request, the Nassau County Civil Service Commission created the titles "laborer/pool and clerical/typist 1 pool" enabling those hired under those titles to be utilized in any department in the county. Previously, an employee could only work for the department for which he or she was hired. Now, county parks laborers can be used elsewhere during slow periods such as the winter.
Several measures have been taken to streamline the personnel, the largest of which is the elimination of 139 currently vacant positions, including funding and fringe benefits.
While Jacobs said that this is not a substantial move, Vieser countered that this alone will result in the accruing of $1.5 million in savings each year.
Further assistance will be provided by the implementation of an early retirement incentive plan that New York State is expected to authorize for localities and the adoption of a severance incentive program to encourage those not eligible for early retirement to leave county employment. The number of seasonal employees has already been reduced.
In a letter sent to the county executive in March, the Democrats requested a line-by-line justification of every non-civil service/patronage job on the county payroll. Democrats estimate that this would trim $10 million from the county budget.
Vieser said a list was supplied to Jacobs addressing the positions with which the Democrats had questions, and furthermore the jobs that were eliminated were some of those in question.
Gulotta's plan calls for the Nassau County Police Department to undergo some consolidation. Computerization will be used to eliminate blotter recorder positions and the Visual Communications Squad will merge with the Electronics Squad.
There will be Social Security withholding recovery initiative and the utility accounts payable audit initiative, upon the recommendation of the county comptroller.
Other budget-cutting measures include the reduction of overtime at the Nassau County correctional center, expanded substance abuse monitoring and on site evaluations will be held at family court.