The Long Island, N.Y., counties of Nassau and Suffolk have come up against a legislative impasse in their quest for state approval of deficit bonding packages needed to fill their budget gaps in fiscal 1992.
State lawmakers are currently negotiating details of the counties' plans and could reach a compromise this morning, legislative aides said.
But with the state legislative session scheduled to end today, the three parties needed to approve the plans - New York Gov. Mario M. Cuomo, Senate Majority Leader Ralph J. Marino, and Assembly Speaker Saul Weprin - appear deadlocked.
Without this legislation, both Nassau and Suffolk counties face cash-flow crises sometime in the fall, officials there say.
"If we don't get what we need, our best guess is that we could run out of cash sometime in October," said Tim Ryan, a spokesman for county executive Robert Gaffney. "That means Suffolk County [residents are] facing a massive property tax increase."
David Vieser, chief spokesman for Nassau County executive Thomas Gulotta, said the county will have to resort to layoffs and a "dramatic increase in property taxes" if Albany does not approve the plan.
The final days of the legislative session are traditionally a time for intense political jockeying, but this year's negotiations concerning the two counties' plans are even more jarring.
For the first time in recent memory, the Republican-controlled counties are asking Democrats in Assembly and a Democratic governor for deficit-bond approval. And county officials say the Assembly and Mr. Cuomo may not approve their plan, or may force the counties into a compromise they may not want.
Suffolk County, for its part, is seeking state approval to issue up to $91 million in deficit bonds and to raise its sales tax to 8% to close a projected $91 million deficit in its $1.3 billion budget for fiscal 1992, which ends Dec. 31.
Nassau County is asking the state to approve the sale of up to $71 million in deficit bonds, as well as a new 1% mortgage tax to close a $131 million projected gap in its $1.8 billion fiscal 1992 budget, which also ends Dec. 31.
If the legislation is not approved, county officials say they would be forced to make sharp reductions in their municipal work force and to raise property taxes, which are among the highest in the country. In fact, county officials said they designed the deficit bonding and tax plans to avoid a need for the politically unpopular tax.
Nassau and Suffolk are among 22 New York State municipalities seeking legislation to address budget problems with either deficit bond issues, tax increases, or a combination of both.
The state comptroller's office says that nine municipalities including Nassau and Suffolk counties have submitted legislation to issue deficit bonds.
In a recent report, state Comptroller Edward V. Regan termed the level deficit financing requests "unprecedented," and called for the creation of an oversight committee to help identify municipal financial problems and recommend solutions.
However, officials in Nassau and Suffolk blame politics for the delay in approving the deficit plans.
County officials say the democratically controlled state Assembly is attempting to gain a political edge by refusing to agree to a deficit bond package. So far, the Republican-controlled state Senate has passed the counties's budget plans.
But the Assembly will not sign the package unless the Senate agrees to the creation of a financial control board, which would have access to county financial information and have the authority approve or reject all borrowing proposals. Officials in the county governments, as well as the state Senate, oppose the plan.
Meanwhile, a source in the state Senate said the Assembly is holding up approval for most deficit financing and tax increase plans in the state until financial control boards are established.
Mr. Cuomo, for his part, has added another level of uncertainty to the counties' legislative requests by publicly stating his reluctance to sign off on the proposals.