According to its own ledgers, Nassau County is reportedly out of the red and into the black.
County comptroller George Maragos announced Thursday during a press conference at the that Nassau closed its fiscal 2010 year with a $17.2 million surplus.
The county says that its structural deficit reduced by $120 million, almost in half to $131.6 million, and its fund balances increased from $64.2 million in 2009 to $81.4 million in 2010. Revenue had fallen short of projections by $56.1 million due to lower tax revenue from cigarettes and revenue from . Revenue from sales tax however was up by $20.4 million over projections to $984.1 million.
“This is a remarkable achievement by our county executive,” Maragos said, “who inherited a deficit of $133 million and turned the county around on solid footing.”
Overtime from county employees came in $19.4 million, or 36 percent, over the original budget, to which Maragos attributed to the police and corrections departments.
“The police officers, a significant number of them per the contract had a large increase in their base salary and that was not accounted for in the calculations of the submitted budget at the time,” Mangano said.
Mangano said the comptrollers’ findings confirm what he has been saying for months: that would lead to a reduction of a deficit and a surplus in fiscal 2011 . The surplus is based on generally accepted accounting principals. According to a press release from the county executive’s office, the results are unaudited.
The county took advantage of an accounting change in the method for paying for real property tax refunds, which occurred at the end of October 2010, enabling Nassau to count $13 million in bonds towards the profit margin.
“Without that accounting change and without the borrowing that you indicate then that surplus would have been $4.2 million,” Maragos said.
In the 2011 budget all future real property tax settlements would be paid by through bond proceeds according to the comptroller. “So consequently the settlements after Oct. 31... were $13.1 million that are in effect, came in as to increase the bottom line surplus,” Maragos said, noting that the total amount of borrowed funds to pay tax settlements in 2010 was $41 million, down from $65 million in 2009.
Mangano has said that he intends to . “It is a recognition that there are unsettled claims that have never been accounted for as well as a plan to get us through the two years before our policies have the opportunities to come into effect,” he said.
Nassau has petitioned New York state to end its guarantee, which shields schools against judgments from property owners who receive a refund on taxes from overassessed property.
“We believe we’ve set out a legislative path that brings us to where we have to be without Albany,” Mangano said when asked what would happen if Albany does not approve the legislation ending the guarantee. “We wanted Albany’s assistance. I don’t even understand why any legislator on any level of government would want to continue a system that by all accounts wastes taxpayer dollars. This waste does not occur in other states.”
Maragos said the timing of the announcement had nothing to do with the current (NIFA) as the previous comptroller had released the data at the same time last year. NIFA had projected a $176 million budget deficit to occur in 2011 and . A decision in the lawsuit is .
“It’s NIFA that’s changed the rules of the game,” Mangano said. “If they had applied the same principles that they are applying today that they applied to my predecessor there wouldn’t be even a projected deficit.”
Representatives from NIFA could not be reached for comment.