Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman proposed a $4.1 billion budget for 2024 that increases county spending by $180 million and does not raise or lower county taxes.
Blakeman, a Republican, had to submit the second budget of his administration by Friday, Sept. 15, as required by the county charter.
An additional 50 new full-time positions are included in the proposal, mostly in public safety, health and human resources departments, as well as 20 more police officers.
Blakeman said in a budget letter that accompanied his proposal that the staffing increases are to add resources in fighting back against “criminal first policies” and the ongoing migrant crisis in the state.
Included in the budget is funding for two more classes of police and correction officers and additional money for bus services, early intervention and preschool special education services, among other items.
Spending on total salaries in 2024 is projected to be $1.02 billion, a 3.1% increase from $989.9 million this year.
Blakeman committed to using surplus funds to help fix Nassau’s long-term issues such as settling labor disputes and funding new labor agreements and paying off property tax refunds that have been delayed.
Sales tax receipts, which account for 46.1% of revenue for major operating funds, are projected to be approximately $1.6 billion, up from $1.5 billion last year. Blakeman said Nassau’s sales tax growth came in at 1.5% over this year’s projections, attributing it in part to tourism. The budget raises $755 million in the property tax levy, the same as last year and 2022.
The Nassau County Legislature, where Republicans hold a 12-7 majority, will need to vote on approving the budget and can make changes or amendments to Blakeman’s proposal. The Nassau Interim Finance Authority, a state-appointed board that has oversight on the county’s finances, makes the final determinations and approval on the budget.
Blakeman said the county’s strong fiscal position should bring an end to NIFA’s control over the county and return power back to the county’s duly elected representatives.
Democratic county legislators said Blakeman has broken campaign promises to lower taxes and called for an “immediate” tax cut he has failed to deliver.
“Despite Nassau County’s sizable surpluses, healthy fund balance and over $1 billion in reserves, County Executive Blakeman continues to break his promise to further cut taxes beyond the relief that the previous administration delivered to residents in 2022,” Nassau County Legislature Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams (D–Freeport) said in a statement.
Blakeman responded to the minority legislators in a statement saying “as county executive, I have provided real tax relief to our residents without resorting to the reckless fiscal policies of the past.”