Westchester County is among a group of 10 municipalities in the state under “significant financial stress,” according to a report released Sept. 25 by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.
The designation places the county among the most financially stressed municipalities in the state. The report marks a jump up in category from last year’s designation, which marked the county as under “moderate stress.”
In response to the report, Westchester County Executive said in a statement that the county’s fiscal stress problem “didn’t happen overnight, and it isn’t going to be fixed overnight.”
Latimer, a Democrat, pointed blame at his Republican predecessor, Robert P. Astorino, for holding a hard line on tax increases during his two terms.
“For almost a decade, the prior leadership used the reserve fund, one-shot revenues and drastic staff reductions to deliver on an ideological commitment rather than prudently developing a steady stream of revenue,” Latimer said. “It is unsustainable to have an unrealistic revenue policy – as the comptroller’s report now points out.”
He said his first budget, introduced later this year, will offer steps in “digging Westchester out of the hole.”
DiNapoli launched the rating system for fiscal stress created in 2013. The comptroller’s report evaluates local governments on financial indicators such as fund balance, cash-on-hand, short-term borrowing, fixed costs and patterns of operating deficits.
Other municipalities under significant street include the counties of Nassau, Monroe and Suffolk; the cities of Niagara Falls, Poughkeepsie and Watervliet; and the towns of German Flatts, Oyster Bay and Parish.
While this year’s list, DiNapoli said, marks the third-straight decline in the overall number of municipalities listed in stress, the number of local governments in “significant fiscal stress” more than doubled from a year earlier.
“While the results may be encouraging in some areas, there are municipalities that should focus on near-term financial risks and implement more prudent long-term planning,” DiNapoli said.
The latest round of scores is based on 2017 financial information provided to DiNapoli’s office by local governments as of Sept. 5, 2018, and includes only municipalities with fiscal years ending on Dec. 31, 2017.