State: Glen Cove finances most stressed on LI

Glen Cove City Hall is shown. Glen Cove City Hall is shown. Photo Credit: T.C. McCarthy

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An analysis of more than 1,000 counties, cities and towns issued by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli identified Glen Cove as the most fiscally stressed municipality on Long Island, and one of the nine most stressed studied by the state.

The report, released Tuesday, used a scoring system that ranked municipalities based on factors such as operating deficits, high levels of debt, and heavy fixed costs -- the higher the score, the worse the stress.

The report covered 1,043 entities -- every county and town, 44 cities and 10 villages -- that have fiscal years ending Dec. 31.

Glen Cove received the second-highest score amount New York cities, behind only Niagara Falls, the report states. Six municipalities were ranked as having "significant stress," six including Glen Cove were said to have "moderate stress," and a dozen were listed as "susceptible to fiscal stress."

One of the factors behind Glen Cove's rating was the city's debt service, which last year was more than $9 million -- more than 17 percent of its total revenue, Assistant Comptroller Nathaalie Carey said.

The city's deficit -- which Mayor Ralph Suozzi said is about $4.1 million -- was another factor, Carey said.

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"When you couple that debt with other indicators, that starts to paint a picture," Carey said.

Suozzi said it's "no surprise" the report identified Glen Cove as fiscally stressed. The city's financial troubles predate his election in 2005, Suozzi said.

Suozzi said he used his first day in office to request former State Comptroller Alan Hevesi to perform an audit of city finances. The audit, released October 2006, identified a deficit of more than $10 million, which was later found to be $14.9 million, he said.

The city has been reducing the deficit since, Suozzi said.

"I knew Glen Cove was stressed before I became mayor. It's why I ran for mayor," Suozzi said.

The report lists both Nassau and Suffolk counties as "under review," meaning a determination of the counties' financial standing has not been determined. Reports about the two counties will be released this summer, said a comptroller's office spokeswoman.

Debt-strapped Oyster Bay, which has been shedding staff and has seen several recent bond rating downgrades, is also listed as "under review." The other 12 Long Island towns have been reviewed and were not designated as financially stressed, the report states.

The only Long Island village mentioned in the report is Islandia, which has not yet filed financial reports, Carey said.

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DiNapoli expects to release data from other municipalities this fall and eventually cover more than 4,000 government entities, including school districts, the spokeswoman said.

"The challenges facing local governments have reached a critical point and these fiscal stress scores should serve as a wake-up call," DiNapoli said in a statement.

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