State Shutdown Extended; Bellone Picks Fiscal Impact Task Force

Though deaths statewide from the novel-coronavirus declined to 606,  Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo Thursday extended the shutdown of non-essential businesses to May 15.

Also Thursday, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone Thursday announced the creation of a Fiscal Impact Task Force. The task force is an independent panel that will conduct an extensive review of the county’s multi-year plan and determine the financial impact that the pandemic has had. 

“New York PAUSE has worked,” Cuomo said, referring to Policies that Assure Uniform Safety for Everyone, the state order issued March that shut down non-essential businesses as of March 22.

The order came the day before a policy takes effect that requires New Yorkers to wear face masks whenever they are in public where social distancing is difficult. That order also applies to public and private transportation as well as those using in for-hire vehicles.

Cuomo said the plan to “Un-PAUSE” New York includes the following steps:

  1. Do no harm – Step one is to continue controlling the rate of infection. This includes extending the NY Pause order until May 15th and implementing additional measures to reduce the rate of infection, including requiring masks in public when social distancing is not possible.
  2. Strengthening the healthcare system – Step two is continuing the surge and flex strategy to ensure anyone who needs medical attention gets it, building out the strategic stockpile of PPE and other medical equipment, and sharing resources amongst states and localities.
  3. Testing and Contact Tracing – The best tool to inform decisions and calibrate progress of any phased reopening of the economy is through both diagnostic and antibody testing. The states need the federal government to partner on this effort and bring it to the mass scale that is needed. With the help of an army of investigators, contact tracing needs to be done to help limit the virus spread.
  4. Phased Return to “New Normal” –

 Evaluating Risk by Industry: The ‘Un-Pause NY’ approach is designed to open businesses in phases of priority. Businesses considered “more essential” with inherent low risks of infection in the workplace and to customers will be prioritized, followed by other businesses considered “less essential” or those that present a higher risk of infection spread. As the infection rate declines, the pace of reopening businesses will be increased.

 Precautions and Practices for businesses to consider to guide return to “new normal”:  

 Transport: Ensure employees have means for safe transport (e.g., masks, gloves for public transit) or require telecommuting/work from home.

 Workplace: Ensure workplaces are designed to include social distancing measures (e.g., desks six feet apart, conference rooms redesigned), telecommuting for those who can and the most vulnerable

 Customer Interaction: Ensure measures designed to ensure minimal contact with customers, ensure public-interacting employees have necessary protective supplies such as gloves, masks, etc.). Special precautions should be taken for businesses that primarily interact with the most vulnerable populations.

 Proactive Infection Plan: Ensure protocols in place should an employee develop COVID-19 symptoms or test positive (i.e. work from home plan)

Bellone said, “The economic devastation brought on by this pandemic is having a dire impact on state and local governments.

“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,” Bellone said.

Named to Bellone’s task force were:

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 Michael 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. 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. She  is an adjunct professor at NYU’s Schack Institute of Real Estate master’s program and is a Suffolk homeowner.

Nathan Leventhal is a member of Suffolk County Executive Steven Bellone’s 2012 Fiscal Analysis Task Force, and has several decades of public service included serving as deputy mayor of operations for Mayor Ed Koch, Chief of Staff to Mayor John 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, Levanthal 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. He is a Suffolk County homeowner and also serves on the Southampton Town Budget and Finance Advisory Board. 

Larian Angelo is a senior fellow at the City University of New York’s Institute for State and Local Governance. The ISLG’s many initiatives include Truth and Integrity in Government Finance which is a multi-year study of municipal budgeting and fiscal practices.  Before joining the ISLG, for over two decades,  Angelo held several municipal finance leadership positions throughout New York City government in both the executive and legislative branches. 

Michael W. Kelly is a 40-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. Previously, he 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. He i also serves as chair of the Southampton Town Budget and Finance Advisory Board.

Cuomo also confirmed another 8,505 additional cases of novel coronavirus, bringing the state total to 222,284. The Suffolk case total rose to 24,182, with 653 deaths, keeping the county in seventh place in the country, after four of the five New York City boroughs (excluding Staten Island), Wayne County, Mich., and Nassau County.

Northport Village Trustee Tom Kehoe appeared on Jay Oliver’s radio program to discuss the epidemic’s impact.

 

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