More than 200 county workers would receive pink slips under a new spending plan announced Wednesday by Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano.
In additon to layoffs, county employees would be forced to take a 13-day unpaid furlough as Mangano attempts to close a $176 million budget gap and appease the Nassau Interim Finance Authority.
After an unsuccessful legal challenge to block the state watchdog agency from taking control of the county's finances, Mangano said Wednesday that the $181.9 million in new spending cuts were necessary as NIFA does not count borrowed money as revenue.
“This is a plan where no one’s insulated,” Mangano said of the proposed cuts he called “severe” and “significant.” “Everyone’s sharing the sacrifice to address the financial concerns that NIFA has.”
The reductions total about $5 million more that what NIFA projects because “historically there’s been criticism as to some of the cuts that are (promissory),” Mangano said.
Cuts include 213 county workers, elimination of 307 vacant positions, a furlough for county personnel and reduction of part-time and seasonal workers, bringing the total number of workers eliminated since Mangano took office to more than 1,000.
Mangano has also called on NIFA to implement a wage freeze on county union workers set to take effect on April 1, which he said will save an additional $10.5 million. The six-member NIFA board is set to meet Thursday afternoon.
“I wouldn’t be shocked if they did,” CSEA union president Jerry Laricchiuta said of the possibility of a wage freeze.
The CSEA is the largest union in Nassau and all 213 workers on the chopping block are among its members.
“(What) we don’t get is why he zeroed in on us,” Laricchiuta said, referring to Mangano. “I guess it's because we’re the largest and he had a deadline to meet.”
The new cuts would take effect on July 1 and include $17 million in reduced contractual obligations, $4.5 million in eliminating contributions to the Long Island Bus service, $3 million in reduced overtime at the county jail and $15 million in a “realignment” of the county police department, which may include closing a precinct.
“Bricks and mortar may change,” Mangano said, adding that a more detailed plan would be rolled out in the next few weeks.
Both the police and county workers unions have said they will file a lawsuit against Nassau if furloughs are implemented.
“Even though we were in the midst of a three-year concession plan we provided the county with $50 million in savings each year for 2009, 2010, 2011... this is all about him trying to get $60 million from labor,” Nassau County PBA President James Carver said of the county executive.
Mangano maintains that under the control period instituted by NIFA in January, he has the power to institute layoffs and furloughs.
By far the biggest single departmental reduction is $5.4 million from social services, followed by $2.2 million from the health department and $1.9 million from public works.
The layoffs and cuts would hit some people particulary hard, Laricchiuta said.
“It’s very sad because we already have members that work for social services that are actually part of social service," he said.
Leg. Kevan Abrahams, D-Hempstead, argued the the spending cuts were coming too late.
“We are of the belief that the cuts that we’re going to be able to see today could have been done well over a year ago,” said Abrahams, the deputy minority leader. “And from that standpoint it's discouraging because now we’re going to have to cut even more.”
Leg. Wayne Wink, D-Roslyn, added that “if you have to save $12 in a year, you can either save it by saving $1 a month or if you wait until six months in you have to save $2 dollars a month and that’s kind of a time-set, the longer you wait, the deeper the cuts have to be in order to make the annualized number.”
Mangano said that “the first round” of cuts would affect all levels and departments, holding up his own office as an example.
“No one is exempt,” he said, adding that labor leaders would be given time to offer “voluntary concessions to lessen the severity of these actions.”
According to the county executive, NIFA has “declined” to become involved with labor talks “but they have offered to review that decision as the discussions go forward.”
Both Carver and Laricchiuta have said that they would not come to the negotiating table with the county unless NIFA is present.
“NIFA’s the oversight board right now, they’re going to be approving anything that happens in the county,” Carver said. “The only way that we would sit down is if NIFA was in the room and if NIFA gives the authority to do something. Remember, we’re also in the last year of a concession plan. We are not going to negotiate concessions for this year.”