The New York State Comptroller’s Office told Rockland County officials this week that the math in County Executive Ed Day’s proposed 2018 budget is good.
The deputy state comptroller reviewed the proposed $684.25 million spending plan, which stays within the state property tax cap, and had this to say in a letter to Rockland officials: “Based on the results of our review, we found that the significant revenue and expenditure projections in the proposed budget are reasonable.”
Day thanked the state for its approval and vote of confidence. “The comptroller recognized that this is a solid, responsible budget that holds the line on spending while conservatively and realistically projecting revenues, including sales tax,” Day said. “There’s no smoke and mirrors.”
The 2013 law that authorized Rockland County to issue a $96 million deficit bond mandates the county submit its budget to the Comptroller’s Office every year until the note is paid off.
In years prior over-projection of sales tax revenue caused the county to fall into a $130+ million deficit, even as property taxes were increased over 50 percent.
Day thanked Rockland Finance Commissioner Stephen DeGroat and Budget Director Steve Grogan for their efforts.
Day said the comptroller’s approval is the second time in less than a week that the county’s finances have gotten a vote of confidence. An audit of County finances done for the Rockland County Legislature predicted that the deficit that totaled $138 million four years ago will reach zero by the end of the year.
“We were on the brink of fiscal collapse four years ago,” Day said. “Thanks to our careful management and the reforms we have put in place, we have done a total turnaround.”
Day urged the Rockland County Legislature to approve the spending plan.
The 2018 budget calls for a 1.95 percent tax increase, which is lower than the state-mandated property tax cap. For the average Rockland residential property owner, taxes will increase about $2 monthly.
County spending is essentially flat in the new budget even as the county pays off $13.2 million yearly in the deficit bonds, deals with lower state reimbursements and increasing employee health care costs.
The budget calls for no layoffs. Vacant positions are eliminated and new and redefined positions are created with a net reduction of 11 positions without layoffs.