Glen Cove and Amityville made significant strides in improving their shaky finances in 2015, while Suffolk and Nassau counties and the Town of Hempstead remain in “moderate fiscal stress,” a report released this week by the state comptroller’s office found.
The state was unable to release a fiscal stress score for the financially struggling Town of Oyster Bay, which the office of Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said did not release financial information to the state as required by law.
Oyster Bay’s finance director, Robert Darienzo, blamed the town’s lack of filings on problems with computer software that delayed audits.
Glen Cove and Amityville each rose two notches on the fiscal stress list, from “significant” stress – the worst designation – to “susceptible” to financial stress, the least severe of the rankings for the 4 percent of counties, cities, towns and villages statewide that DiNapoli’s offices deems under stress.
Glen Cove Mayor Reginald Spinello said the improved rating “shows we’re heading in the right direction.”
“We’re not done yet, but this is a good sign,” he said, citing a 2015 operating surplus in the general fund and decreased debt as among the improvements.
Amityville Trustee Nick LaLota credited his village’s improvement to more frequently and closely monitoring revenues and expenses.
The Town of Hempstead retained its 62.5 “moderate stress” score for the second straight year, but Town Supervisor Anthony Santino predicted the score would improve next year, after a 3-percent cut in spending in 2016 and a balanced budget.
“We’re making great strides and improving the town’s fiscal outlook,” Santino said.
Nassau County also remained at moderate stress, but its score improved by 10 points. Suffolk County’s score remained unchanged.
Some of the practices that lead to financial stress include operating deficits, overreliance on short-term debt to cover revenue shortfalls, and lack of reserves to cover unanticipated expenses and shortfalls, comptroller’s office spokesman Brian Butry said.
About eight percent of municipalities in the state failed to file complete data, the comptroller’s report said.
“Most of the folks who aren’t filing have some sort of fiscal stress or financial issues,” Butry said.
The Village of Lawrence was cited by DiNapoli for failing to file timely financial information for three years in a row. Village Administrator Ronald Goldman blamed staff and independent-auditor turnover.
Comptroller’s office records show that Oyster Bay filed its 2014 data in April -- too late to be analyzed -- and Lawrence filed its 2013 data in May but still has not submitted 2014 and 2015 information.