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Letter: County Financial Report Card

The Financial condition of the County continues to improve by all fundamental measures, primarily due to the improving economy and cost controls instituted by the Mangano administration. From residents’ point of view, the County’s improved financial state is reflected in the county portion of their property tax bill, which has not increased in the last four years.

 

The mid-year financial projections for 2013 indicate that the County will end the year with a $5.6 million budgetary surplus. This follows on the heels of 2012’s surplus of $41.5 million, now confirmed by independent auditors.  These budget surpluses are due to increased sales tax revenues from the improving economy (up 10.4 percent year to date) and reduced Social Service costs due to lower unemployment (down to 6 percent, one of the lowest rates in New York

State and lower than that of Suffolk County and New York City.)

 

All other financial fundamentals also continue to improve, including the structural gap, property tax refunds due to assessment corrections and the County’s long term debt.  I’ll address these three points in turn.

 

The County’s structural gap (the difference between current expenses and recurring revenues) continues its year-over-year improvement since 2009. The structural gap is projected at a seven year low of $54.4 million, down from $116.9 million in 2012 – a 53.5 percent improvement over one year ago - and down from $251.6 million in 2009 - a 78.4 percent improvement over four years.  

 

The County’s growing liability for property tax refunds appears to have been addressed and is expected to decline.   The County’s average payouts have been reduced to about $60.3 million annually for the last four years, down from an annual average of $93 million under the previous administration.  This decrease does not come at the expense of homeowners: it is due to a more aggressive policy on the part of the Mangano Administration of challenging commercial grievances.

 

It is worth noting, given the public debate about the county debt, that the long term debt increased only modestly due to 47 percent lower new borrowing over the last four years compared with the period of 2006-2009. The total projected year end 2013 debt of $3.595 billion is quite manageable and only about 30 percent higher than the annual budgetary revenues of the County. Most families manage mortgages that are 300 percent to 400 percent of their family’s annual income.

 

Although the County’s financial fundamentals have improved by all measures, the County continues to face fiscal challenges. The wage freeze currently challenged in the courts is the greatest potential liability, estimated at $230 million by year’s end.  To protect the County’s improving financial state, the County needs to address this risk in the 2014 Multi-Year Plan or resolve it through collective bargaining. 

George Maragos 


News

Drivers—get ready to slow down. Nassau County is currently in the process of installing school zone speed cameras in an effort to enhance safety by encouraging drivers to travel with caution, as well as support law enforcement efforts to crack down on violators and prevent accidents caused by speeding.

Nassau County officials say Sewanhaka High School will receive a camera on Covert Avenue, which spans the eastern stretch of the property. Tulip Avenue runs in front of the high school and was also considered. Cameras could begin operation in September.

The Village of New Hyde Park finished its Operation Main Street project just in time, because the town’s eligibility for federal funds is shrinking, officials announced last week.

“The qualifications revolve around money,” trustee Donald Barbieri said. “Like how much income is being earned by people in the area. I guess as seniors move on, you can’t buy an [expensive home] and it changed the demographic, shrinking our eligible area.”


Sports

New York Mets pitcher Zack Wheeler and catcher Travis d’Arnaud brightened the day for some patients at Cohen Children’s Medical Center last week in New Hyde Park, posing for pictures and handing out gifts and autographs. The players hung out with the kids in the afternoon, playing video games and answering questions.

They also found the time to make the rounds, stopping by bedsides to spread some cheer. Mr. Met also joined the tour and was a big hit with the children, who peppered him with questions about everything from his four-fingered hand to the whereabouts of the missing Mrs. Met.

The Sewanhaka Indians football team has a season of change in store.

The Indians have moved up from Conference III to Conference II, due to an increase in enrollment, and are set to face teams that they have never seen before, according to head coach George Kasimatis.

“It is hard to gauge where we will be in this conference,” he said. “There is a lot of uncertainty as where we fit in.”


Calendar

Library Board Meeting

Thursday, Aug. 28

Welcome Reception

Wednesday, Sept. 3

Herricks School Meeting

Thursday, Sept. 4



Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com

The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
Written by Mike Barry, MFBarry@optonline.net

Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com