Rockland County Executive Ed Day announced Monday that the county’s deficit fund balance that totaled $138 million four years ago is projected to be paid off by the end of fiscal 2017, according to an audit.
“We have gone from $138 million deficit to zero in four years without raising taxes,” the County Executive said. “It’s a near-miraculous turnaround of a county that was on the brink of fiscal collapse.”
The Legislature’s outside auditors, Marks Paneth, presented the County’s 2016 audit to the Legislature at its budget review meeting Thursday night, Nov. 2.
Rockland Finance Commissioner Stephen DeGroat and Budget Director Steve Grogan reviewed the audit Fridayand Day made the results public Monday.
According to the audit, in 2015 the deficit fund balance was $16 million. By 2016 it was reduced to $4 million.
“We have turned around our finances without raising your taxes beyond the state property tax cap,” Day said. “We stopped the endless tax-and-spend cycle that brought us double-digit tax increases and a massive deficit.”
The county is continuing to pay off the $96 million deficit bond – the ‘Sins of the Past’ – at a rate of $13.2 million per year, Day said.
Day urged the Legislature to authorize the sale of the county-owned Sain building for $4.51 million so that the proceeds could be put toward settling union contracts with county workers.
“I implore the Legislature to take this action, to be a partner in the turnaround of Rockland County,” he said.
Wiping out the deficit that Day inherited has helped Rockland County’s overall financial picture.
“Our bonds are now rated A minus, our fifth consecutive bond upgrade since I took office,” Day said. “We have gone from near junk bond status to the A category in just three years.”
The improved bond rating helps taxpayers because it allows the county to borrow money to fund capital projects at a lower cost.
Rockland County has saved between $3 to $5 million in debt service since 2014.
“That is equivalent to a 3 to 5 percent property tax increase that did not happen due to our fiscal responsibility,” Day said. “Think about it – that is 3 to 5 percent a year that your property taxes did not go up.”
Rockland County’s financial turnaround has earned the trust of the financial markets, which are willing to pay a premium to invest.
“What it all comes down to is careful management and planning,” Day said. “I treat your tax dollars like they are my own.”
COUNTY PRESS RELEASE