County Executive’s Corner: “Comptroller Agrees”

By County Executive Ed Day

Earlier this week we received more good news in respect to the 2019 Proposed Budget. The New York State Comptroller’s Office found that, “the significant revenue and expenditure projections in the proposed budget are reasonable.”

As one of the conditions of our deficit bond we must submit our proposed budget to the Comptroller’s Office for review. They then examine the budget and make any recommendations they think appropriate. The main question they asked this year was, “are the significant revenue and expenditure projections in the County’s proposed budget reasonable?”

They examined our revenue and spending estimates; made inquiries and reviewed supporting documents; verified and corroborated trend data estimates and they could have made recommendations but DID NOT because this is a solid, responsible budget. There are no smoke and mirrors.

This proposed budget holds the line on spending; conservatively and realistically projects revenues, including sales tax; and is paying down the massive deficit we inherited. A win for our taxpayers. We are not spending money we do not have; you know, just like we must handle our home budgets.

We managed this, despite significant challenges. As we began the budget process this year, we faced a budget gap of over $13 million which would have translated to a roughly 10% county property tax increase. That’s in addition to a roughly $13 million payment we must make every year until 2024 to pay off the deficit bond. This is the situation I inherited, what I call the sins of the past. Without these challenges, you likely would have seen a double-digit tax DECREASE.

To balance the 2019 Budget, we examined every county department from top to bottom for cost savings. We applied cost benefit analysis, professional accounting practices and strict fiscal accountability all while finding new ways to bring in revenue. We are thinking outside the box, transforming and redefining County government; refocusing on the needs of our residents so we can grow in the ways that the people of Rockland need us to. This year we faced down our financial challenges and found ways to meet them; all while staying under the state property tax cap.

The fact is that the Comptroller recognized that this is a budget that continues Rockland on the path to long-term fiscal health. We will not veer from our conservative budgetary practices and we will keep looking for ways to restructure and modernize your County government to more efficiently serve the public.

I fully expect that should the Legislature contemplate any amendments to this budget, that they will precisely mirror these determinations from the Comptroller and include reasonable and prudent revenue and expense projections. Fiscal prudence; this is why we must stay the course.