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Comptroller reaffirms finding that Oyster Bay is in fiscal stress, as Saladino disputes findings

Oyster Bay Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino said,

Oyster Bay Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino said, "If the report was only based on data from my administration, it would be zero financial stress." Credit: Danielle Silverman

Oyster Bay Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino has disputed a designation of fiscal stress on the town by the state comptroller’s office.

“The town has zero financial stress at this moment,” Saladino said in an interview earlier this month.

Last month, State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli’s office released its latest fiscal stress figures, which scored Oyster Bay as being under “significant fiscal stress” based on year-end general fund balances, cash on hand, short-term borrowing and operating deficits, according to the comptroller's report.

The threshold for significant fiscal stress is a score of 65 or above. Oyster Bay's score was 70, the second-worst for a town in the state after German Flatts in upstate Herkimer County. Among Long Island towns and cities, Oyster Bay and Long Beach are the only two designated as being in fiscal stress.

“The biggest problem for anyone who reads the report is that it’s based on a compilation of ... old data that dates back to before I was supervisor,” Saladino said. “If the report was only based on data from my administration, it would be zero financial stress.”

Most of the data measured by the comptroller’s office was from the town’s 2018 audited financial report, but it also included some data from 2016 and 2017. Saladino was appointed supervisor on Jan. 31, 2017. If only 2018 data were included, the town's score would still designate it as under stress, according to the comptroller's score sheet. 

New York State Assistant Comptroller Tracey Hitchen Boyd said in an interview that Oyster Bay is still under fiscal stress.

“In the case of Oyster Bay, they have very little financial flexibility to deal with unanticipated events,” Hitchen Boyd said last week.

Hitchen Boyd said the town’s finances are improving but, “It's not so easy to fix in the near term. It requires a disciplined approach over time to stay in a non-stress situation,” she said.

The town’s audited financial statement shows it ended 2018 with a $10.4 million deficit in its general fund, which is one of the municipal fund balances the comptroller’s office uses to calculate its fiscal stress score. One indicator used in the stress score that has improved since 2016 is the town's operating deficit, which was erased in 2017 and 2018 because of a large increase in revenue and small decreases in spending, according to the comptroller’s scoring sheet.

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