The Nassau County Legislature unanimously approved the proposed $3.88 billion budget proposed by County Executive Bruce Blakeman Oct. 28.
The Republican-controlled Legislature voted 19-0 on the budget, which marks more than a $3 million increase from Nassau’s $3.5 billion 2022 budget. The county plans on spending almost $990 million on its salaries, wages and fees, the largest expense in the proposal.
Out of the $3.5 billion major operating funds in the budget, the county’s proposed general fund is more than $2 billion, making up 61% of the overall fund expenses. Over $960 million, or 28.8% of the operating funds’ expense, is allocated to police services, according to the budget.
Democrats attempted to add an amendment to hire more than 100 new police officers. Blakeman’s proposed budget included the hiring of 36 new police officers, according to the documents.
Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport) urged Blakeman to support the plan to hire more officers and establish a hate crimes division within the Nassau County Police Department. The Democrats’ $6.3 million public safety plan, he said, would have been funded from the county’s projected 2023 surplus, ranging from $52.9 to $60.4 million.
“While County Executive Blakeman has paid lip service to crucial issues of public safety, taxes, and assessment during the last 10 months, his administration has consistently fallen short on solutions – like how he has proposed adding just 36 officers for the entirety of our county,” Abrahams said in a statement.
Sales tax accounts for 45.9%, or $1.527 billion, of the county’s anticipated total revenue, the highest percentage among the overall revenue. The anticipated growth would be 1.8% from the prior 2022 projection of $1.375 billion.
“Economic conditions create new challenges for the government each year, as we continue to rebuild our local economy post-COVID-19 pandemic; I am pleased to say that Nassau is back,” Blakeman said in a letter attached with the proposal.
Property taxes make up more than 22% of the anticipated revenue, the second-highest percentage, according to the budget. The county anticipates collecting $755.3 million, the same as in the 2022 budget, Blakeman said.
Nassau also expects to receive $261.4 million in state aid and $161.1 million in federal aid, increases from $226 million and $156.7 million, respectively, from the 2022 budget. The federal funds outlined in the budget, according to the proposal, are not from the American Rescue Plan. The plan has provided Nassau with $385 million, according to the proposal.
Blakeman was required to submit the budget proposal for legislative review by Sept. 15, according to the county charter. The Nassau Interim Finance Authority, a state-appointed board that has oversight on the county’s finances, makes the final determinations and approval of the budget. Lauding his team’s work on the budget, Blakeman said he hopes that NIFA will soon relinquish its power over the county’s finances.
A NIFA analysis released prior to the legislature’s approval of the budget showed that the proposed spending plan for the 2023 fiscal year could result in nearly $40 million in budget deficits. NIFA Chairman Adam Barsky told Newsday that the risks included in the budget were “manageable.”