Road improvements, a new full-time police officer and a refund due from the state are the reasons the Village of Huntington Bay landed on the state comptroller’s list of municipalities “susceptible to fiscal stress,” Village Mayor Herb Morrow said Wednesday.
State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli released the list based on findings from his Fiscal Stress Monitoring System, which is used to assess levels of fiscal stress in local governments. The system looks at year-end fund balance, cash position, short-term cash-flow borrowing and patterns of operating deficits. It generates overall fiscal stress "scores" that coincide with a classification.
Huntington Bay is the only village on Long Island to make DiNapoli’s list.
In a news release DiNapoli said COVID-19 pandemic relief packages provided significant aid to local governments, but now “funding is winding down and local officials will have to closely monitor their financial conditions.”
DiNapoli’s office evaluated the fiscal health of 519 villages, which predominantly have a fiscal year ending on May 31, based on self-reported data for 2022.
Morrow said the village scored 46.3 points, just over the threshold of 45 points for being “susceptible to fiscal stress.” He said 30 of the points were due to a change in the village’s fund balance, which is the balance of funds available after income and expenses.
The village took $200,000 from fund balance to cover the cost of some road and drainage improvements. Because of an increase in crime, part of the money was also used to hire an additional police officer to bring the village’s force up to four full-time officers. First-year salary for a police officer is $65,000 plus benefits, Morrow said.
The village received an $80,000 state grant to go toward road improvements and safety guardrails. The grant required that the village spend the money and then submit for reimbursement. At the close of the fiscal year the state had yet to reimburse the village any of the money, Morrow said.
“We’re grateful for the money,” Morrow said. “But had we received just a little of the reimbursement we would not have made the comptrollers report.”
Morrow said the only other time the village has appeared on the list was in 2013. That year four officers from the village’s police department accepted a voluntary buyout and he had to use fund balance money to pay them out sick time that they were owed.