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Decision on Nassau Finances Expected Today

Will new union deal be enough to stave off state takeover?

The question of whether or not Nassau County will be come a ward of the state will reportedly be answered today.

The  (NIFA) is set to meet Wednesday at 2 p.m. and issue a ruling on the issuance of a control period for the county finances or grant them a reprieve after  from the Mangano administration detailing the steps taken to avoid a 1 percent deficit, or $26 million in the .

The six-member state watchdog group had  for the county to supply documentation regarding the county’s finances, specifically $61 million in proposed labor savings, $23 million in State risks and $75 million in bonding for tax certiorari settlements.

The county has since submitted details on various contingencies including , and announced on Tuesday that it had reached an  agreement with its largest union group – the Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA) – to cut costs on all future employee hires.

The new contract is said to save $70 million through 2017, including $61 million by slashing salaries 11.4 percent from their current levels during employees’ first 7 years on the job.

“We know the sacrifices families are making at home, and for that reason we will rise to the occasion once again by joining the County Executive in achieving millions in labor savings over the next 7 years,” CSEA President Jerry Laricchiuta said in a statement.

An additional $8.8 million was saved through the elimination of “blood days” – essentially paid time off for union workers to donate blood. CSEA members could earn up to three days off per year for donating blood.

Mangano had previously announced labor reductions of about 400 positions amounting to  and leaving another 210 positions vacant. The County Executive has also  if concessions from unions were not given as part of the 2012 budget.

“The budget not only removes a large tax burden from the backs of homeowners and employers, it also reduces the number of employees to the lowest levels since the 1950s,” Mangano said in a statement.

Six letters detailing the county’s contingency plans were submitted to NIFA providing what it says is proof of a balanced budget. The $23 million in State risks – increasing  and surcharges on tickets on the Long Island Expressway which would need State legislative approval – are backed up by $15 million in hiring freezes for “non-essential employees” and $8 million in office supplies and expenditure cuts.

It is not known how the new union contract – which must be ratified by the union – will affect any decision rendered by the NIFA Board of Directors as it was announced after the Jan. 20 deadline.

Should a control period be issued, NIFA can bring only $10 million in relief by halting the annual step increases to union employees, minus the costs of its legal fees. It can also halt the county from issuing short term bonds, known as revenue anticipation notes (RANs) and tax anticipation notes (TANs) which are paid back once money from sales and property taxes, respectively, are received.

A freeze on bonding would leave Nassau with few options to make up the lost revenue, either layoffs – extremely difficult with union members due to a no-layoff clause that expires at the end of the year – or to raise taxes, a notion Republican legislators – who are up for election this year – have vowed will not happen.

Nassau County is also readying a suit against the State should NIFA impose a control period, and is expected to be joined by the various county unions, because the statute establishing NIFA has never been tested in court.

NIFA has also been , including New York’s former Chief Judge Judith Kaye, now a member of the law firm Skadden, Arps.

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