Many people this time of year are resolving to change things in their lives. Whether it be quitting smoking, eating healthier, exercising more, saving more money or even learning a new skill or language; these are all worthwhile goals. However, the resolution I am most focused on for Rockland County is continuing to save your taxpayer dollars while improving our fiscal health.
As a County, we have come a long way since I first took office in 2014. We have received seven consecutive bond rating increases; rising from near junk status to an A2 rating from Moody’s Investors Service. The 2017 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for Fiscal Year 2017 budget showed our undesignated fund balance is now in the black at $6.3 million. This is the first positive undesignated fund balance since 2006.
We’ve managed this, despite the $138 million deficit I inherited upon taking office and the $13 million payment we are making every year until 2024 to pay back the deficit reduction bond. Everyone said we would need double digit tax increases every year just to make those payments and we have proved them wrong!
While things are improving, we still have a long way to go on our path to financial recovery. The New York State Comptroller recently released the 2017 Fiscal Stress Monitoring System report which showed Rockland County as now having “Moderate Stress” an incredible turnaround from being the most fiscally stressed county in the state. This improved rating shows that we still face serious challenges. Our financial health is improving, but our problems have not disappeared.
My resolution is to do everything within my power to complete our financial recovery. I will not sit back and relax or allow others to jeopardize what we have worked so hard to accomplish.
I was forced to veto the Legislative Majority’s amended 2019 budget because it included speculative revenue, over-estimating sales tax revenue and refused to modernize county government. A budget like theirs could have led us back down the path of deficits and double-digit tax increases; a return to the sins of the past. I thank those in the Legislative Minority for refusing to accept poor fiscal policy and for standing up to help me protect Rockland’s financial recovery.
For 2019 I resolve to finish the job that I started. I resolve that I will make the tough decisions necessary to keep Rockland County on a strong fiscal track. And I pledge that I will do so in service to all of you. Putting your needs first and foremost where they belong. Together we will prove that Rockland is the greatest County in the State of New York.