Nassau County Executive Laura Curran announced her proposed $3.5 billion budget for 2022 would cut property taxes by $70 million in 2022 and cut taxes by $150 million over the next four years. Following three consecutive budgets with no property tax increases, Curran’s proposal continues its core commitments: providing relief to property owners, prioritizing public safety improvements and maintaining fiscal discipline.
“Three years of strategic budget management have paid off – allowing us to not only weather the unprecedented financial crisis of the pandemic while maintaining service and staffing levels, but also to emerge with county finances in their position. strongest in over a decade,” said Nassau County Executive Laura Curran. “Tax relief, combined with strong investments in public safety, will help Nassau maintain its status as ‘America’s Safest Community,’ while putting money back in the pockets of Nassau homeowners as we Let’s continue to revive our local economy.”
Increase investments in public safety
The county executive highlighted its proposal for increased investment in public safety, as Nassau County sees historic lows in major crime while increasing in many areas of the state. This investment includes $45 million in new spending and 70 additional positions in the police department, probation, sheriff’s office and other public safety agencies. If approved, the county would increase the number of sworn officers for the first time since 2009. The budget also includes funding for two policing classes and two corrections classes for new officers, funding for the initiative to county body camera and related costs, and full funding for collective bargaining and ordinance wage increases under the model proposed by the county.
“As County Executive, keeping the residents of Nassau safe will always be my highest priority,” Curran continued. “This increased investment in public safety will help ensure that our law enforcement agencies have the resources and training necessary to perform their jobs at the highest level – while providing every neighborhood with the security and confidence to protect all our residents.”
“Today’s announcement by the Curran County Executive will greatly benefit the police department by allowing us to continue to hire officers now and in the future,” said Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder. “This investment in law enforcement will allow us to allocate the appropriate personnel as we continue to reduce crime to historic lows to make Nassau County the safest community in the United States.”
Continue to clean up county finances
With this budget, the Curran County Executive continues its efforts to clean up the fiscal mismanagement of the past, offering to pay for pension expenses deferred by the previous administration. During the Great Recession, the county deferred mandatory retirement contributions under a state-authorized special program. The county still owes the pension system $195 million through 2029 as a result of this deferral. Therefore, the proposal includes repaying this deferral in two installments, with $155 million this year and $40 million next year, which will allow the county to be current on its pension obligations for the first time in over a decade. These payments continue Nassau County’s commitments to fiscal responsibility.
Rebuild county finances
These property tax cuts are made possible after the Curran administration cautiously ended 2019 with a budget surplus of $145 million and 2020 with an additional surplus of $128 million. These surpluses were the direct result of continued fiscal discipline coupled with strategic financial management of the county’s workforce, expenditures and outstanding debt – as well as the county’s exhaustive use of $103 million dollars from federal CARES Act funding.
This surplus was supported by the county’s historic bipartisan agreement to work with NIFA to restructure debt. This strategy saves County taxpayers $117 million in present value and reduced our total debt service by nearly $65 million over the life of the transaction.
The county dedicated these excess funds in 2020 to grow depleted reserves so that when the next downturn hits, Nassau County will be financially ready to handle it.
While the county executive insisted on the need for American Rescue funding, the county balanced the 2021 budget without waiting for those federal funds, and the 2022 fiscal plan is also balanced without using those funds. The county is using these funds to directly help residents, businesses and taxpayers impacted by the pandemic.