New York Islanders Arena Plan Under Scrutiny From State Oversight Agency

Nassau County, N.Y. has screwed up their finances so badly that they can't even be trusted to control them. That authority has been handed to the Nassau Interim Finance Authority, or NIFA, and when it comes to the August referendum on which taxpayers will vote on a $400 million arena plan for the New York Islanders, NIFA isn't happy.

If that referendum passes, Nassau County will borrow that money to build that new arena and further develop the Coliseum property, which would keep the Isles on Long Island for at least 30 more years.

Via Newsday, subscription required:

"As we await necessary information from the county regarding the 2011 and 2012 budgets, NIFA requires details of this new plan, which must be evaluated in the context of the county's fiscal crisis, the wage freeze on county employees and the reductions in services to county residents," NIFA said in a statement.

Said NIFA board member George Marlin: "With the county in a state of fiscal despair -- and the fact that they are laying off county employees -- to saddle taxpayers with another $400 million in debt and to spend scarce dollars on a special election in my judgment is absurd. Cash-strapped Nassau County can't afford fantasy baseball."

Any Nassau County borrowing transaction made over $50,000 must be approved by NIFA, so even if the voters agreed to the referendum in that special election, the state agency will need to sign off on the deal. Given the lukewarm response -- at best -- to the news on Wednesday, this could be an obstacle.

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