Members of Nassau County’s legislative majority called on County Executive Laura Curran to submit a 2022 budget proposal featuring tax cuts on Monday. On Tuesday, she outlined a $3.5 billion budget proposal that reduces taxes by $150 million over the next four years.
According to Curran, the budget will cut property taxes by $70 million next year. She credited the county’s fiscal responsibility over the last few years, noting that surplus funds in the 2019 budget ($145 million) and the 2020 budget ($128 million) will allow the county to cut taxes in 2022.
County officials said the $128 million in surplus funds from the 2020 budget will be used to “grow depleted reserves” for whenever the county experiences the “next downturn.” Officials also said the budget remains balanced without the expectation of further funds from the American Rescue Plan, despite Curran’s seeking them.
The county is scheduled to receive $385 million from the American Rescue Plan in 2021 and 2022 after receiving more than $102 million in the CARES Act.
The proposal, which is required to be submitted to the County Legislature on Wednesday, features an overall spending increase of $200 million from the $3.3 billion 2021 budget. The increase includes an additional $45 million allocated to public safety investments, Curran said during a news conference Tuesday.
“As county executive, keeping Nassau residents safe will always be my highest priority,” she said. “This increased investment in public safety will help ensure our law enforcement have the resources and training necessary to perform their work at the highest level – while providing every neighborhood with the safety and trust necessary to protect all our residents.”
Some of the expenditures Curran planned include costs to implement the department’s body camera program, funding for future collective bargaining agreements and wage increases, two police classes and two corrections classes for newly sworn officers.
While touting the work of the county’s Police Department, Curran said the proposal also calls for 70 new positions in the department. If approved, it would be the first time the department expanded the number of sworn officers in more than a decade.
“Today’s announcement by County Executive Curran will greatly benefit the Police Department by allowing us to continue to hire police officers now and in the future,” Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder said. “This investment in law enforcement will allow us to allocate proper personnel as we continue to decrease crime to historic lows to keep Nassau County the safest community in the United States.”
Chris Boyle, spokesman for the legislative majority, said that Republican officials have been prioritizing tax relief for Nassau homeowners, while the county’s reassessment initiative yielded “tax increases for 65 percent of property owners.”
Republican officials, on Monday, proposed cutting nearly $100 million in county fees. Their proposal would include using some of the millions in excess sales tax revenue over the projected sales tax revenue in the budget, according to a news release from the majority. Officials said reports indicate the county is projected to receive $130 million more in sales tax revenue this year than in 2019.
The proposal would eliminate the $350 tax map verification fee and the $55 public safety fee as well as reduce the $300 recording fee to $50. The tax map verification fee is charged by the county assessor to verify land details in deeds, mortgages, or other real estate documents, while the recording fee is charged by the county for recording and documenting those deeds, mortgages, liens, statutory notices and other filings needed to be re-indexed, officials said. The public safety fee is a result of traffic and camera violations issued since Jan. 2, 2017.
“After the county executive vetoed millions of dollars tax cuts proposed by the Legislature in last year’s budget, the Majority will eliminate almost $100 million dollars in county fees paid by residents, to keep more money in their pockets where it belongs,” Presiding Officer Rich Nicolello (R-New Hyde Park) said. “This will help our small businesses, seniors, residents refinancing, paying off mortgages or buying homes in Nassau County.”
Majority officials said the proposed bill will be passed by the Legislature on Sept. 27 before it goes to Curran for final approval.
Curran, a Democrat seeking re-election this year, criticized the legislative committees for passing the proposed legislation on Monday in remarks to Newsday without indicating whether she would veto the measure.
“I would call that irresponsible legislation proposed yesterday, to haphazardly cut fees,” Curran told Newsday.
“Majority Legislators proposed rolling back almost 100 million in government fees yesterday, and they invite the County Executive to join them in helping taxpayers,” Boyle said in a statement. “At the same time, Legislators are eager to consider all proposals that are focused on reducing taxes in the best interest of Nassau taxpayers.”