Letter to the Editor: East Rockaway, Lynbrook

Dec. 22 — 28


Fixing Nassau’s budget plan

To the Editor:

Budgets reflect not only priorities, but also the serious effort to balance worthwhile programs with our mission to efficiently use every dollar collected from Nassau’s hardworking taxpayers. As noted in the Herald editorial, “Nassau county must end its budget chicanery” (Dec. 8-14), setting the county’s 2017 budget was not easy.

Contractual increases in pay for police, corrections and municipal employees, coupled with mandated increases in pension and benefit costs by New York state, demanded that Nassau spend about $70 million more in 2017 to provide exactly the same services as in 2016.

Facing this challenge, after a decade of double-digit tax increases and runaway spending under the prior Democratic administration, my Republican colleagues in the County Legislature and I have adopted another no-tax-increase budget, our sixth in seven years. In fact, Nassau Republicans’ strong fiscal leadership has produced six years of budget surpluses.

Despite this record of success, the Nassau Interim Finance Authority arbitrarily rejected a $36 million revenue projection in the 2017 budget, which set the stage for the NIFA-imposed elimination of funding for critical youth services, crisis-intervention programs, problem-oriented policing and training for every volunteer fire department in Nassau.

The Herald’s characterization of this outrage as the “Republican-controlled Legislature’s plan” is absurd. NIFA’s actions endangered the safety of our first-responders and the public they serve. My Republican colleagues and I committed ourselves to stopping it, and we did.

By crafting and passing a plan to close the NIFA-caused deficit through spending cuts and an increase in the tax-map verification fee, Republican legislators and the administration saved these vital programs with no tax increase. Sadly, every Democrat voted against it. NIFA has approved the plan.

Through these actions, youth services, and our “Pop-Cop” program will be fully funded for 2017, and the volunteer firefighters who put their lives at risk to protect the lives and property of the public will receive all training offered by our Nassau County Fire Service Academy to help them succeed in their mission. That is the Republican Legislature’s priority.

Steve Rhoads

Nassau County legislator,

19th District