Day cites Legislature’s decision to delay Sain sale as cause of deficit
PRESS RELEASE FROM COUNTY EXECUTIVE’S OFFICE
Rockland County has filed its second quarter report to the state Comptroller, which once again shows the strong progress the county is making just three years after earning the shameful designation of most fiscally stressed in the state.
Under the leadership of Rockland County Executive Ed Day:
· The county has reduced the size of government while increasing efficiency.
· The Ccunty executive’s 2016 budget reduced spending by $35.3 million from the previous year – the largest year over year decrease in Rockland history.
· Rockland has had three credit rating upgrades and two years of consecutive budget surpluses under the Day administration.
· The budget deficit that totaled $138 million when Day took office two years ago is now projected to be $19 million.
“But amid this good news is one stain on an otherwise unblemished record of achievement. In spite of all this work and all the savings this year, we are projected to have a $1.2 million deficit this year for one reason and one reason only … the Legislature’s failure to sell the Sain Building,” County Executive Ed Day said.
The Legislature voted in December to approve a 2016 budget presented to them in October that relied on $4 million in revenue from the sale of the crumbling Sain Building.
The Legislature has failed to act on a solid offer of $4.51 million for the building. Now, 10 months later, the Legislature has taken no action to sell this building.
The report filed with the Comptroller clearly shows the impact of that failure to sell the Sain Building. Rockland County now has a projected $1.2 million budget deficit due to this failure.
“The main driver of this shortfall is in the revenue category – there is a high possibly of a significant shortfall in the sale of real property of $4 million due to the failure of the Legislatur to pass the needed authorization to sell the Sain Building,” Rockland Commissioner of Finance Stephen DeGroat told the state.
He also informed the New York State Office of the Comptroller that County Executive Day has implemented an austerity plan projected to protect the county’s treasury.
“We’re doing business differently now,” Day said. “No more of these projections that may or may not come true. We don’t spend what we don’t have.”
The report also underscores the importance of implementing austerity measures and reassuring credit rating agencies that Rockland remains in control of its finances.
“Some in the legislature said our projections were a fantasy, that the failure to sell the Sain Building this year would not have an impact on our budget,” said Day. “The only fantasy being told was from these legislators, and this report is proof that they were absolutely wrong.”
Failure to ensure the sale of the building during this fiscal year reverses the Herculean efforts made by many members of the Day administration to turn around Rockland’s finances. If the Sain Building had been sold to a ready and willing buyer who offered $4.51 million, Rockland would be running a $3.3 million surplus.
The Legislature’s failure after 10 months to sell the building despite a solid offer for above asking price also means that this year is now projected to be the first time since Day became county executive that the county’s deficit will be increasing instead of decreasing.
The austerity plan is designed to minimize the damage done by legislative inaction and hopefully capture some of the lost revenue from the sale blocked by the Legislature. Only one thing will certainly stop that: the Legislature completing the sale of the Sain Building by year’s end and realizing $4 million from the sale.
If costs to taxpayers increase, they will know that the blame lies squarely with the Legislature.