MINEOLA, NY—Nassau County Executive Laura Curran today released her 2020 budget, which, for the second year, includes no-property-tax increase. The $3.56 billion budget is a fiscally responsible plan that makes targeted investments in important service improvements for County residents and businesses. This budget includes investments in modernization of County operations, improvements to housing, sustainability and transportation, and efforts to increase collaboration with Towns and Villages to save taxpayer dollars.
“For the second consecutive year, I have worked hard to hold the line on taxes. We are proposing a no-property-tax increase budget. We are continuing to exercise spending discipline while providing County residents with the quality services they demand and deserve,” said County Executive Curran. “We are working harder than ever to make our County attractive to new residents, businesses and workers. We must meet the challenges of retaining our young people rapidly fleeing Long Island, and attract the next generation to ‘live, work and play’ in Nassau in order to grow our tax base.”
Curran’s proposed 2020 budget is $3.56 billion. The budget in FY 2020 grows by $72 million, or 2% above the current FY2019 projection, below the forecast level of inflation of 2.1% in 2020.
The budget includes a conservative projection on sales tax revenue with 1.9% growth expected. Future labor contracts are funded consistent with the County’s multi-year financial plan using vacancy savings.
Investing in Infrastructure and Sustainability
NY Islanders Coming to Belmont – Bringing the Islanders back to Nassau County has been a major priority of the Curran Administration. The staff worked diligently to review Empire State Development’s plans and will continue to work cooperatively to bring the Belmont project to fruition. In addition to a permanent home for the Islanders, the $1.3B investment will include a hotel and retail village. The public-private partnership is expected to generate $2.7 billion in economic activity, sustain 3,200 permanent, full-time jobs and produce an annual economic impact of $858 million locally. For Nassau, more than $25 million in new tax revenue is expected thanks to the project, helping the County’s budget in FY 2020 and beyond. While we await the team’s new arena, we have a guarantee that the team will play no less than twenty home games at the Coliseum this season and next, and we are happy to welcome the team back to Nassau for even more games.
- Park Investments - As part of the County’s ongoing efforts to improve public green spaces and the ability to generate revenue through quality food and beverage services, the County has released RFPs for new concession services at park facilities. The County is also releasing an RFP for naming rights and advertising at County park facilities. In addition, the County is extending an RFP deadline for the County-owned Carltun on the Park, a premier catering and event venue, to maximize revenue-producing opportunities for not just the County, but also the successful proposer who ultimately operates the restaurant and catering facility, and their subcontractors who assist them.
- Road Resurfacing - In 2019, DPW took an aggressive approach to roadway infrastructure investment, maintenance and improvement. With over 1,500 lane miles in Nassau, there is a lot of work to do to address the County’s neglected, pothole-ridden roadways. The 2019 plan includes doubling the number of roads paved, for an unprecedented 200 lane miles – a 130% increase since 2017. It is vital to Nassau County’s residents and businesses to maintain a top-quality road infrastructure. In addition, in line with transparency efforts in all aspects of government operations, DPW with the County I.T. Department developed two interactive websites to showcase and outline Nassau’s active Road Resurfacing Program for residents and local municipalities.
New Police Training Facility – For years County Police and Correction Officers have been trained in expensive and inadequate rented space while plans for a new police academy have languished. On May 29, 2019 the County broke ground on the 89,000-square-foot new multi-purpose Nassau County Training and Intelligence Center to support our commitment to state-of-the-art policing in the County. The FY 2020 budget continues to fund the construction of the Center. The facility, which is expected to be complete in 2021 will provide police, correction officer and probation officer training and community engagement, serving as a model for shared services. The County will also make the facility available to other local jurisdictions for training their personnel as part of our ongoing work to share services locally. Appropriately, this facility will be financed with County bonds, to be paid back over the time the County will benefit from this investment. The required payments on these bonds are provided in this operating budget.
Police Precincts - This budget is funded to provide full staffing at both the 6th and 8th Precincts, and construction on both Precincts should be completed by the end of this year.
New Family Courts – The County is investing in a new Court Facility and Family Justice Center to ensure that Nassau County families are serviced in a modern facility which enables them to address their challenges in a respectful and dignified setting. The new Family Court will have 23 courtrooms, including 13 Matrimonial Center courtrooms, a Domestic Violence courtroom, judges’ chambers and holding pens for adult and juvenile detainees. Managing this construction effort as well as staffing and ensuring quality work will be a DPW priority and focus.
Western Bay Marshes – As a County located on an island, Nassau must protect our environment and waterways. For the past 60 years, sewage treatment plants discharged into the Western Bays, the marshes between Long Beach and the main body of Nassau County. With support from New York State, Nassau County is embarking on a $350 million project to remove that discharge with the Western Bays Water Quality Improvement Initiative. This will clean waterways, restore marshland, improve shell-fishing, and provide residents with a better quality of life for generations.
Modernizing County Operations
Centralized Accounts Receivable – Currently, multiple departments in the County generate invoices and receive checks and other payments and remittances. Many of the staff engaged in this work and have other responsibilities which often take priority. This system does not allow for timely posting of payments and lacks a standardized process across all departments. The County will create a new centralized accounts receivable function in the Office of the Treasurer which will take on these duties on behalf of all departments, resulting in: increased collection, standardized processing, timely posting, improved customer service and reduced costs.
Electronic Payment Processing for Vendors – The County is implementing electronic payment processing for County vendors. This new system will improve the efficiency of collections and provide the County with better control and management of cash.
Improving Housing and Transportation
- Housing – The County Executive has made the development of affordable housing throughout the County a priority, and continues to promote our model housing ordinance, working closely with our municipal partners, private and non-profit developers. As part of the County’s comprehensive strategy, they’re working to preserve housing options for our seniors, disabled residents and families on limited budgets. As local administrator of the Housing Choice Voucher Program through New York State, the County helps lower-income residents secure decent, safe and sanitary housing in the private rental market. The Administration is increasing funding to the Office of Housing to support critical staffing for this program and address a funding gap between the grant received from New York State and the cost to administer the program. Three new full-time staff members will help reduce housing specialists’ caseloads, allowing for more efficient case management and attention to the processing of repayments and improved lease up rates for active vouchers.
- Transit – The Administration is committed to improving the mobility of Nassau County’s residents, workers, students, and visitors. The efforts have included the complete streets and traffic safety initiatives and infrastructure investment throughout the County and our team has been actively involved with the MTA on the LIRR Third Track Expansion Project. After years of cuts and service eliminations, the County’s partners at NICE bus have rolled out several improvements including the introduction of interval-based schedules on the most heavily used routes and the testing of app-based PILOT programs. This year the County is investing additional resources in NICE buses to expand services and routes, with determinations to be made in compliance with Title VI non-discrimination requirements, and to pay for certain increases in operating expenses including Clean Buses using Compressed Natural Gas.
Saving Money through Collaboration
Grants and Shared Services – This summer the County Executive hosted the initial meeting of the 2019 Shared Services Panel Meeting. The goal of the Shared Services Panel is to bring together Nassau County and municipal leaders to identify and implement new ways to save taxpayers money through shared and more efficient services between local governments within the County. To maximize potential savings the County has brought in the State University of New York’s Rockefeller Institute of Government to help develop and implement the County-Wide Shared Services Plan. The saving generated may be eligible for a one-time match from the State which has $225 million available for such purposes.
Business Friendly County – As part of the County Executive’s efforts to grow the tax base, the County must continue to remove barriers to economic development. The not-for-profit sector plays an important role in providing economic, social and cultural benefits and resources to Nassau County. To encourage growth in this sector, the County has eliminated the 239-F construction fee for nonprofit development projects. The fee had been a hindrance to non-profits looking to develop or expand in Nassau County. Additional improvements to the 239(f) process will soon be recommended by the County Executive’s Blue-Ribbon Panel to Streamline Development Approvals, which has undertaken a comprehensive review of the staffing, administrative and technological challenges built into the process. As part of this on-going effort, this budget includes funding for two newly created positions within DPW that will be dedicated to expediting this critically important review process.
Sewer and Storm Water Rebalancing Plan - In 2020 the County will also be implementing a Sewer Tax Rebalancing Plan to correct yet another financial error made by the Mangano Administration. Expenses were misallocated among the three sewer zones from 2016-2019 because of errors in the Mangano Administration’s financial model. Under County Executive Curran’s plan, taxpayers who were overcharged will see a reduction in sewer taxes, while those who were undercharged will see an increase, phased in over the next five years, 20% per year. Although there is no impact to the overall 2020 budget from this error, there will be an impact on taxpayers in the three sewer zones. In 2020 over 400,000 Stormwater district taxpayers will see a reduction of $1.86, over 40,000 Disposal Only district taxpayers will see a reduction of $47 and Collection and Disposal district taxpayers will see an increase of $9.