On Thursday, U.S. District Court Judge Leonard Wexler found that when the Nassau County Interim Finance Authority froze the Nassau County police officers’ wages, about two years ago, it did not possess the authority to do so.
The federal court found that the state financial oversight board had used its authority to freeze the wages after its authority over the contracts had expired. Hence, the order to freeze pay became void ab initio.
It’s going to cost the Long Island County close to $20 million to put things back to shape.
The NIFA had been formed in 2000 to counter the near insolvency of Nassau County with broad powers to issue bonds and control budgets. However, the period of such authority expired in 2008.
Judge Wexler found it was wrongful for the board to use its nonexistent authority to freeze police wages in 2010.
However, County Attorney John Ciampoli issued a statement saying that the county is reviewing the decision and the possibility of appeal is not ruled out.
According to the county, the state law allows the board to monitor the county until 2030 or until the bonds issued by it matures.
It seems to be a neat and effective manner to overrule democracy, by putting authority in financial power and control of budgets for 30 years or more.
If the county’s arguments are to be believed, whoever may come to be elected by the people, the NIFA will remain the de facto ruler, by controlling local economy.
According to Fitch Ratings, the oversight of NIFA “has had some positive effects on the county’s financial operations, such as instilling increased budgeting discipline and imposing the wage freeze. But NIFA’s oversight has added a layer of complexity to decision-making.”