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politics

Rockland Deficit Declines, Day Says

Budget Director Steve Grogan, Finance Commissioner Stephen DeGroat and Rockland County Executive Ed Day discuss the latest audit.
Budget Director Steve Grogan, Finance Commissioner Stephen DeGroat and Rockland County Executive Ed Day discuss the latest audit. Photo Credit: Rockland County Government

ROCKLAND COUNTY, N.Y. --  Just one day before the elections, Rockland County Executive Ed Day said Monday the county's deficit fund balance that totaled $138 million four years ago is projected to be paid off by the end of fiscal 2017, according to an audit.

"We have gone from $138 million deficit to zero in four years without raising taxes," Day said. "It's a near-miraculous turnaround of a county that was on the brink of fiscal collapse."

The outside auditors, Marks Paneth, presented the county's 2016 audit to the Legislature at its budget review meeting on Thursday.

According to the audit, in 2015 the deficit fund balance was $16 million. By 2016 it was reduced to $4 million.

"We have turned around our finances without raising your taxes beyond the state property tax cap," Day said. "We stopped the endless tax-and-spend cycle that brought us double-digit tax increases and a massive deficit."

The county is continuing to pay off the $96 million deficit bond – the 'Sins of the Past' – at a rate of $13.2 million per year, Day said.

Day urged the legislature to authorize the sale of the county-owned Sain building for $4.51 million so that the proceeds could be put toward settling union contracts with county workers.

"I implore the Legislature to take this action, to be a partner in the turnaround of Rockland County," he said.

Day claims that wiping out the debt he inherited has helped Rockland County's overall financial picture.

"Our bonds are now rated A-minus, our fifth consecutive bond upgrade since I took office," Day said. "We have gone from near junk bond status to the A category in just three years."

Rockland County has saved between $3 to $5 million in debt service since 2014, which Day says is equivalent to a 3 to 5 percent property tax increase that did not happen due to our fiscal responsibility.

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