Rockland County Times Commentary
When the New York Comptroller’s list of most fiscally stressed local governments for the fiscal year 2013 came out in 2014, the Town of Ramapo was conspicuously absent after ranking as the number one most stressed town for the fiscal year ending 2012.
Local sleuth for the Ramapo GOP Committee Bill Weber thought that didn’t quite add up. Upon researching the matter Weber discovered a few interesting things. For starters, the Town of Ramapo filed its financial reports late in 2014, thus avoiding mention on the list. It turns out that if a government files their papers late, they do not get ranked on the list and the Comptroller’s Office makes no effort to amend the list later when they do file.
Their lateness worked in the favor of town officials.
When the Comptroller’s Office provided Weber with the math formula used to determine the fiscal stress list, Weber plugged the financial numbers in and found out the Town of Ramapo still ranks as the most fiscally stressed town in the state, and is just behind nearby Village of Suffern and the County of Rockland for most fiscally stressed government overall in the state. In fact, the town’s score is significantly worse than 2012.
Weber told the Rockland County Times, “It is imperative that all government entities, and most especially those towns that are in significant fiscal stress, file their financial data with the NYS Comptroller’s Office in a timely fashion so that the state can evaluate the fiscal health of those government entities and make recommendations or take appropriate action where and when needed.”
Former Ramapo GOP supervisor candidate Marino Fontana added, “The Town of Ramapo did not release their 2013 financials in a timely manner. This resulted in New York State not ratings the town’s fiscal health. Because of this we felt it was in the people and town’s best interest to know where we stand financially.”
When the matter of the town’s stress rating was brought up at a town board meeting, Weber said Ramapo Supervisor Christopher St. Lawrence tried to blame 2012 the numbers on faulty bookkeeping by his nemesis Melissa Reimer, former town finance director. However, documents revealed St. Lawrence signed off on the numbers himself and Reimer already had been ostracized long before the 2013 reports were made.
More on this story later