BY MARC MOSS
As Election Day 2019 approaches, Ramapo Supervisor Michael Specht is claiming success in taming the town’s finances.
Specht walked into a fiscal mess in 2017 in the wake of disgraced Supervisor Christopher St. Lawrence’s tenure and promised change and a level of transparency that was badly lacking under the previous administration. Additionally, he promised to bring fiscal responsibility to a town that was burdened with heavy debt when he took office. As his first term draws to a close, Specht says he has improved Ramapo’s financial position.
Specht points to Ramapo’s improved fund balance – the town had a general-fund deficit of $13.9 million in the 2018 budget season. Specht and his staff cut the budget deficit by 23 percent to $10.8 million last year and was able to cut more than 30 percent this year, leaving the deficit at $7.4 million heading into 2020.
Specht’s 2020 budget proposal would reduce the deficit by another $2 million.
“We were able to cut the deficit by 23 percent during my first year in office and the initiatives we have put in place this year will cut it by another 23 percent,” Specht said. “I am confident that we can completely eliminate the deficit during my next term with continued sound budgeting and control of spending.”
“The budget deficit must be completely eliminated if Ramapo is to continue to thrive and I believe that we have taken all the necessary steps to put Ramapo back on the right track. We will continue employing fiscally conservative business practices to return to the towns general fund to a healthy, positive position, one that will allow us to better serve all of Ramapo’s residents.”
Not everyone is a fan of Specht. Among his critics is Deborah Munitz, his challenger in the 2019 election, running on the third party SAM line.
One issue Specht has confronted is the fact the town had failed to file routine audits for years under St. Lawrence. While Specht has completed the audits backlogged from the St. Lawrence era, Munitz slammed him for failing to release the 2018 budget audit prior to the 2019 election.
She said, “Taxpayers demand to know what’s going on and shouldn’t wait forever for perfection. The Town must release even draft financials.”
How do voters feel? We only need to wait two more weeks to find out.