October 2, 2019 – Legislator Tom Cilmi, GOP Caucus Leader gathered today with Republican legislators and Suffolk County Comptroller John Kennedy to raise concerns about Suffolk’s fiscal condition.
New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli’s annual report on municipalities’ fiscal stress across the State called Suffolk the most stressed of all counties in the State. Suffolk received the worst ranking of “significant fiscal stress,” and was ranked worse than Nassau County.
The DiNapoli report, issued every year since 2013, considers five primary financial indicators:
- Year-end fund balances
- Operating deficits/surpluses
- Cash position
- Use of short-term debt for cash flow
- Fixed costs
The report also considers a number of “Environmental Indicators,” such as population, employment and sales tax revenue, to name a few.
After a number of years of “moderate fiscal stress” (2013 – 2016), Suffolk’s ranking deteriorated to “significant fiscal stress” in 2017 and remained there in 2018.
GOP Leader Tom Cilmi said, “Frankly, we’re alarmed. Each year the County Executive has told the Legislature and told the public ‘things are getting better,’ yet it appears, based on the DiNapoli report, that it’s quite the opposite; things are getting worse. County Executive Bellone has had nearly eight years to turn this ship around and despite more than $172 million of sales tax growth and hundreds of millions of dollars in new fees, we are STILL in distress. Our debt has skyrocketed and our bond rating has plummeted with seven downgrades since Bellone took office. Bellone’s spokesperson said the County Executive has been digging Suffolk out of a massive financial crisis. He credited Bellone with the fact that Suffolk’s ranking hasn’t gotten worse since last year, but it’s already the worst it can be, and in fact, it HAS gotten worse during Bellone’s time in office as evidenced by DiNapoli’s annual report each year.”
John Kennedy said, “To say that Suffolk County is in “significant fiscal stress” is the understatement of the year. As was stated in the report from NYS Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, Steve Bellone is spending more than the County is taking in and continues to borrow against our future. Unfortunately, we are now in a position where we are having difficulty meeting our financial obligations from week to week. Many of our vendors are not even close to getting paid on time which puts significant financial stress on them as well, may lead to private sector employees not getting paid on time, puts jobs in jeopardy and in many cases, results in a reduction in services to the taxpayers.”
“It seems that, as we have been saying all along, the hole has gotten much deeper,” Cilmi said. “Each year the County Executive has proposed a budget which he has called balanced and each year there have been huge deficits. He’s lost all credibility. We are asking our Comptroller to have a look at the situation, but I am much more inclined at this point to believe Tom DiNapoli’s report than County Executive Bellone.”