Nassau County Comptroller Jack Schirman announced late last week that his office will begin conducting an in-depth analysis of the impact the Covid-19 virus has had on the county’s finances. The analysis will provide “a series of projections on critical revenues, so that Nassau can best prepare for recovery,” Schnirman said in a news release.
“Covid-19 is an unprecedented threat to the health and safety of our community, as well as our fiscal health,” Schnirman said. The difficulty in making any projections is that “we do not know how long this will last or how deep the hole will be,” he said.
Economically dependent sales tax “is key to plan for the immediate future” and what comes after that, Schnirman said. Because revenue losses take longer to materialize than potential increases to crisis-related expenses, the modeling is complex and challenging, he added.
Schnirman said the Covid-19 crisis more closely mirrors the economic downturn of 2008-09 than the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. “We need to know a range of potential impacts on county revenues so we can ensure essential government services will continue unimpeded,” he said.
The financial impact analysis will provide projections of models relating to sales tax and various fees, to project the county’s financial trend lines in the months ahead, Schnirman said.
On the expense side, direct purchases have not yet had a critical fiscal impact relative to previous crises, because only a few million out of a multi-billion dollar budget have been spent thus far, Schnirman explained. “It is the revenue side that will take longer to materialize and is of greater concern at present,” he said.