My colleagues and I are aware of the responsibility placed on our shoulders. Recognizing this responsibility we have taken some important steps to bring Nassau's fiscal house in order.
As the majority we have demonstrated our commitment to make the tough choices needed to restore fiscal health while protecting Nassau's most vulnerable citizens. After 'round the clock negotiations, we recently reached an agreement with the county executive and Republican legislators to reduce the county's budget deficit by $52 million in fiscal year 2000 and $56 million in 2001.
We have succeeded in fulfilling a promise made in January to make progress in restoring and protecting services, while demanding governmental efficiencies and reductions in wasteful county spending. The first level of county actions required by the state's $105 million NIFA bailout plan include:
Non-Union benefit reductions and eliminations:
* Cut out longevity pay for non-union employees
* Eliminated meal allowances for non-union employees
* Slashed the stock of county vehicles
County hiring restrictions:
* A hiring freeze for all county employees, which would result in replacing approximately one of every 10 people who leave.
* A wage freeze for non-union employees.
Staffing Reduction Incentive:
* Agreement to implement severance package first, with guarantee to achieve targeted position reductions.
Cut personal service contracts by over $1 million, reduce the use of private attorneys:
* The county executive has committed himself to filling the 10 vacant positions in the county's attorney office in order to reduce the dependency of outside counsel.
Government efficiencies and reforms:
* Modified staffing and reduced "top-heavy" staff in the police department.
* Instituted strict overtime control at the county jail.
* No reduction to Long Island Bus for the next two years.
* $1.1 million to social service programs for the remainder of year and $2.5 million restored for 2001.
I am pleased with what we were able to accomplish under such a tight deadline. I also rest easy at night knowing that we preserved the services that are the backbone of this county. Without sufficient public transportation, without a properly funded network of social services, and without the money to support day care workers, this county would crumble. We raised fees and cut back services with this agreement. But in no area did we abolish a department or forget those citizens who truly count on our support. This is only the beginning, but it's an example of what two-party government can achieve when we put the interests of our constituents above everything else.