Delusions of Fiscal Balance – By George J. Marlin

George J. Marlin

Nassau Interim Finance Authority

Thursday, July 14, 2011

        Throughout the oversight period that began January 26, 2011, I have been gravely disappointed by the County’s fiscal and managerial behavior.  The County has exhibited delusions of fiscal balance.

  • The County continues to refuse to come to grips with the fact that their 2011 budget is woefully out of balance and 2012 threatens to be even worse.  With overly optimistic revenue projections and cost savings not materializing, it is becoming apparent that the 2011 budget is a work of fiction.  This conduct concerns not only bondholders.  The real parties in interest are County families, small business owners, recipients of vital services, the County’s work force and future generations who will pay for County excesses.
  • Not-for-profit contracts that were approved by the County months ago have been languishing in desk draws.  By refusing to dispense federal and state grants to non-profits—for whatever cynical reasons—the poor, the sick and the elderly have needlessly suffered.  Non-profits that do important work may go out of business.  The County has not been candid with taxpayers or with NIFA.  Contracts have not been promptly forwarded to NIFA and have been intentionally withheld.  That’s not acceptable.
  • Many of the County’s assumptions have been for naught:  sales tax increases sought by the County; red light camera authorization from the state Legislature; labor concessions; and collection of FIT payments have all failed to materialize.  The County has not been candid with taxpayers or with NIFA as to the status of negotiations with public employee unions over the last year.  That’s not acceptable.
  • The revised three-year plan is another example of unacceptable wishful thinking.  For instance, to assume revenues in 2012 of $150 million (a number revised upward by $25 million) from the privatization of the sewer systems, which the County has not even commenced despite having it in its financial plan, is a cruel hoax and an insult to the intelligence of Nassau taxpayers.  The County is duty bound to provide bondholders and NIFA complete and accurate information.

        Today there is a crisis of confidence in the County’s fiscal management.  If corrective actions are not pursued now to cure the County’s fiscal ailments, Nassau will be plunged into fiscal chaos.

       The time has come for the County:

  • To stop illusory budgeting practices;
  • To stop juggling money to keep on the budgetary lid.

       The time has come for the County:

  • To actually govern;
  • To manage fiscal realities;

        The County owes taxpayers two things:  First, candor.  Second, a plan to make up the missing revenues or missing cost reductions.  Those have both been in short supply.

        The County must also recognize that governing entails more than finger-pointing, issuing rosy press releases, attending ribbon-cutting events and fireworks displays.  Governing means making difficult and sometimes unpopular executive decisions.  It means implementing credible fiscal and management reforms in order to avoid the unparalleled disaster that looms over the County.

        In 1975 Felix Rohatyn said this about New York City’s fiscal crisis:  “The dykes are crumbling and we’re running out of fingers.”  That metaphor applies to Nassau’s present crisis.

        It is my sincere hope the County abandons delusions of fiscal balance, drops its amateur political public relations campaign and finally agrees to wage a genuine reform campaign to prevent fiscal catastrophe and restore taxpayer confidence.

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2 Comments on “Delusions of Fiscal Balance – By George J. Marlin”

  1. Gov'tMule Says:

    It doesn’t take much to destroy a country. Just one little family on Smith st. gets an assist and everyone else gloms-on. I remember hearing that Gov Pataki balanced a budget by factoring in profits from 3 casinoes that hadn’t been built yet. Who are the stupid one’s??? Those that expect the taxpayers to believe it or the taxpayers for funding… their own demise? Would it help to throw some coins towards education? That has to be hard work.

  2. NoMoreTaxes Says:

    Here’s a link to this NIFA board meeting. Nassau County is a hot mess.

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