Proposed Rockland County 2020 budget gets clean bill of health from state comptroller

NEW CITY – The State Comptroller’s Office has given its approval to Rockland County Executive Edwin Day’s 2020 proposed budget.

The state comptroller’s office reviewed the proposed $729.9 million spending plan, which stays under the state property tax cap while investing in critical infrastructure improvements, funding new state mandates and providing for the future of the county’s animals.

“Based on the results of our review, we found that the significant revenue and expenditure projections in the proposed budget are reasonable,” wrote Deputy State Comptroller Elliot Auerbach in a letter to the county executive and members of the Rockland County Legislature.

“Despite facing an additional $4.5 million in new state mandates and program costs, which is the equivalent of a 3.5 percent county property tax increase all on its own, this budget holds the line on expenses and conservatively estimates future sales tax revenue. There are no smoke and mirrors here,” said Day.

An audit of the county’s finances in August, prepared by independent auditors Marks Paneth, who were hired by the Rockland County Legislature, showed that the county’s finances continue to improve. The audit showed that for the second year in a row Rockland County had grown its unassigned fund balance in the general fund; from reporting, just over $6.2 million in 2017 to just over $32 million in 2018.

“Despite these successes, we are not at the end of the road. To establish a healthy budget, we must continue to build our surplus and rebuild our undesignated fund balance. The New York State Comptroller recommends that we have a fund balance of approximately $56 million to be a truly fiscally healthy county. I urge the Rockland County Legislature to approve this proposed budget,” said Day.

The comptroller’s office reviewed the 2020 spending plan, salary schedules and debt payment schedules. They also examined significant estimated revenues and expenditures for reasonableness with emphasis on significant and/or unrealistic increases or decreases, which were deemed reasonable.