While federal pandemic aid and an increase in sales tax revenue have improved finances for governments across New York, four Long Island municipalities appear on state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli's latest report assessing fiscal stress.
The comptroller's report, released Tuesday, found the cities of Long Beach and Glen Cove joined the villages of Valley Stream and Roslyn in earning a "susceptible" to stress designation on the latest list.
The report, which has been released annually since 2013, measures stress indicators such as fund balance and patterns of operating deficits to assign a score to each municipality based on financial reports from the prior year. Municipalities can fall into one of four categories: no designation, "susceptible" to stress, or moderately or significantly stressed.
For Long Beach, Glen Cove and Valley Stream, the 2021 scores marked a considerable improvement from past years, with each municipality receiving "moderate" or "significant" stress designations a year ago.
Long Beach, which has been included in the report each year since 2016, was designated the most fiscally stressed municipality in the state as recently as 2019. The city saw its score improve from 77.1 down to 45 in 2021. A score below 45 earns a municipality no designation.
Comptroller Inna Reznik said the city's improvements the past two years can be attributed to more conservative budgeting practices. She said prior to the pandemic the city had already begun to reduce its anticipated revenue and present a more realistic budget than she believes it had in the past. Additionally, they factored in a further reduction in revenue from areas impacted by the pandemic when preparing the budget covered in the report.
"We went straight from significant to susceptible," Reznik said.
Glen Cove controller Michael Piccirillo said "post-pandemic economic factors," including an increase in sales tax revenue it receives from Nassau County, helped its score improve from 61.7 down to 50.4.
"The portion of mortgage tax revenues the city receives from the county related to home sales in Glen Cove improved post-pandemic due to the volume of home sales coupled with higher home values," he cited as one example.
Piccirillo said the city must continue to develop long-term planning initiatives that address "excessively low fund balances" to organically improve the city's financial condition. He included growing reserves and stabilizing taxes for future budgets as ways to accomplish this goal.
Valley Stream, which has been on the comptroller's list the longest of any municipality, saw its score go from 66.7 down to 47.1 in 2021. It's the best score the village has received since it first received a "susceptible" designation in 2015.
Roslyn was the only Long Island municipality included in the report for the first time, but officials in the village of fewer than 2,900 residents are optimistic it will be a one-time designation. Village Clerk/Treasurer Annemarie Stutzmann attributed the village's score of 50.8 points to the temporary practice of halting the collection of parking and building department fees during COVID. She said the village does not expect to remain on the list now that it has returned to normal operating procedures.
In total, 20 municipalities across New York appeared in the new report, down from 30 a year ago.
Suffolk County, the most fiscally stressed county in the state in 2020, earned no designation this year. Nassau County, rated "susceptible" in last year's report, also was not included.