Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone today announced the creation of a Fiscal Impact Task Force due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The task force is an independent panel that will conduct an extensive review of the County multi-year plan and determine the financial impact that the pandemic has had upon it. The County Executive appointed four veterans of public and private sector finance and governmental operations to serve on the task force.
“The economic devastation brought on by this pandemic is having a dire impact on state and local governments,” said County Executive Bellone. “As tax revenue declines, municipal budgets that rely on this steady stream of funding will face significant challenges to fund governmental operations. This task force brings together a group of independent financial experts from across the region to examine the full impact that COVID-19 is having on county finances. I am grateful for the members’ willingness to serve in a voluntary capacity and look forward to the work that they will be doing.”
If during its deliberations the task force requires technical accounting guidance, a review will be sought by the independent Government Financial Officers Association of which the County is a member. Upon its review, the task force will make recommendations on ways to improve fiscal position of the County during this economic downturn.
Local governments throughout the United States have been hit by the blunt force of the COVID-19 epidemic. The public health crisis has put significant stress on the administering of public services as well as municipal budgets. The epidemic has resulted in drastically reduced consumer spending coupled with an increased spike in unemployment, which in turn has plummeted the sales tax and income tax revenues throughout the country. Additionally, the increase in unemployment has forced more residents onto Medicaid, the costs to which local governments also must contribute.
Task Force Members
Emily Youssouf, Chair of the Suffolk County COVID-19 Fiscal Impact Task force, has an extensive background in private and public sector finance and housing. While a Managing Director at JP Morgan Securities, Ms. Youssouf led the Housing Finance Department. She was later appointed by Mayor Bloomberg to several leadership positions throughout his administration including as the chair of the Audit & Capital Committee on the New York City (“NYC”) Health and Hospitals Corporation Board; chair of the Audit Committee of the NYC Housing Authority Board and on the NYC School Construction Authority. Ms. Youssouf also served as President of the NYC Housing Development Corporation where her financial expertise led to an expansion of the authority’s bond portfolio and tripled the authority’s assets under management. Ms. Youssouf presently serves on the JP Morgan ETF Trust Board as chair of the Governance Committee and a member of the Audit Committee and the PennyMac Financial Services, Inc. (PFSI) Board where she is a member of the Audit, Related Party and Risk Management committees. In addition Ms. Youssouf is an adjunct professor at NYU’s Schack Institute of Real Estate master’s program and is a Suffolk homeowner.
Nathan Leventhal, a member of Suffolk County Executive Steven Bellone’s 2012 Fiscal Analysis Task Force, has several decades of public service included serving as Deputy Mayor of Operations for Mayor Ed Koch, Chief of Staff to Mayor Lindsay, Chief Counsel to the US Senate Subcommittee on Administrative Practice & Procedure chaired by US Senator Edward Kennedy, and in the Office of the General Counsel to the Air Force at the Pentagon. More recently he served as Chairman to former Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Transition Committee. While Deputy Mayor of Operations, Mr. Leventhal managed the day-to-day operations of City government and was instrumental in instituting balancing the NYC budget in accordance with the highly stringent Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (“GAAP”) which has continued to be applied to the present day. The City’s application of GAAP to its municipal budgeting processes resulted in improved bond ratings for the City during a financially challenged era. After leaving public service, Mr. Leventhal served as President of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts for over seventeen years which included overseeing the beginning of a $1.2 billion expansion. He is a Suffolk County homeowner and also serves on the Southampton Town Budget and Finance Advisory Board. Since 1989 Nat Leventhal has served as a director of equity, fixed income and money market funds managed by BNY Mellon and Dreyfus. He has also served as a Director of Movado Group Inc. where he is chair of the nominating and corporate governance committee.
Larian Angelo is a Senior Fellow at the City University of New York’s Institute for State and Local Governance (“ISLG”). The ISLG’s many initiatives include Truth and Integrity in Government Finance which is a multi-year study of municipal budgeting and fiscal practices. Prior to joining the ISLG, for over two decades, Ms. Angelo held several municipal finance leadership positions throughout New York City government in both the executive and legislative branches. She served as first deputy director to the Mayor’s Office of Management and Budget where she developed a central savings unit and prior to her executive branch position, was appointed as Director of the NYC Council’s Finance Division where she was responsible for implementing the Council’s NYC Charter budgetary mandates.
Michael W. Kelly is a forty-year veteran of the finance industry who has also served on state and local governmental boards. He is President and CEO of The Municipal Credit Company. Prior to his present position Mr. Kelly was President and CEO of the Central Park Credit Bank, Managing Director at Guggenheim Partners and Managing Partner at the Flying Point Group a global structured finance and investment advisory firm and operated a $2 billion hedge fund. Mr. Kelly served as a gubernatorial appointee to the board of the NYC Housing Development Corporation and as an appointee to the New York State Real Estate Mortgage Insurance Corporation. He is a Suffolk County homeowner and also serves as Chair of the Southampton Town Budget and Finance Advisory Board.
Upon taking office in 2012, County Executive Bellone assembled an independent team of nonpartisan financial experts to analyze the County's finances. The task force was instrumental in developing a strategic approach that focused on protecting taxpayers by transforming county government and staying within the two percent property tax cap. Those recommendations helped to reduce the size of government, streamline workforce operations to save taxpayers more than $100 million, merge departments, and partner with the private sector to provide quality healthcare at health centers.