MINEOLA, NY – Nassau County Comptroller Jack Schnirman today released a fact sheet on the state of the county’s finances ahead of the Nassau County Legislature’s January 29 meeting, where a decision on how to pay a $45 million legal settlement will be made.
“This decision will have a major impact on the county’s financial position,” Schnirman said. “We are making sure the legislature and public know all the facts beforehand so there is no confusion as to how much money the county actually has available to deal with this issue.”
Here are the facts based on the county’s latest FY 2016 audited financial statements, which were released in July 2017:
• An outside auditing firm determined that as of the end of FY 2016, the county had $46.8 million of available resources (the unassigned fund balance) from county primary operating funds.
• In 2017, Nassau County placed $45 million of its available cash in a designated account pursuant to a court order.
• In late 2017, Nassau County utilized short-term borrowing to cover other expenses in order to keep the $45 million in cash available so it could continue to honor the court order.
o Since Nassau County lost the lawsuit, it must pay the settlement and is still obligated to pay back the short-term loan.
o That short-term loan must be paid back by the fourth quarter of 2018.
• The settlement costs were not included as a separate line item in the FY 2017 or FY 2018 budgets.
• The settlement must be paid by February 7, 2018, and if no action is taken a direct transfer would leave only $1.8 million in the unassigned available fund balance.
• This is a small amount of unassigned available funds for a county that spends $3 billion a year, and it will likely be considered a negative factor when bond ratings are determined.
• All other fund balances are restricted, committed, or assigned to specific purposes. Because of these restrictions, there is no available $179 million surplus in the primary operating funds that can be utilized for this or any other unplanned expense.
Staff from the Office of the Nassau County Comptroller met with representatives from the legislature and county executive’s office over the past two weeks to review these figures and will make a presentation at Monday’s meeting.
“The county cannot afford to have important decisions about financial matters be mired in confusion because there are three different sets of books being used,” Schnirman said. “It is vital we have an honest and open discussion about the state of the county’s finances, and that is why I have released this fact sheet to the legislature and the public to ensure everyone is working off the same set of facts.”