‘Fiscally stressed’ Monroe County shows improvement

‘Fiscally stressed’ Monroe County shows improvement

monroe county logoMonroe County continues to rank among the most fiscally stressed communities statewide, a new report from the state comptroller’s office shows, but the county’s scorecard has improved significantly over the last two years.

Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli’s Fiscal Stress Monitoring System designated 25 municipalities across the state as fiscally stressed. Further, the report singles out 10 communities as having “significant fiscal stress.” Monroe County falls into this group.

Out of a possible 100 points, with zero being the least fiscally stressed and 100 being the most fiscally stressed, Monroe County received a score of 69.2. The county’s worst marks were in its 2017 year end fund balance areas.

At year end, Monroe County’s total fund balance of $39.14 million was 3.04 percent of its gross expenditures of $1.287 billion, according to the report.

The county’s cash ratio also received poor marks. Monroe County ended 2017 with cash and investments of $96.87 million, 35.04 percent of its net liabilities of $276.46 million.

“These ‘fiscal stress’ scores are bogus metrics invented by Albany that only tell us what we already know—the state’s pass-the-buck approach to governing places an incredible burden on local governments and taxpayers,” Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo said in an emailed response. “While Albany continues to make it harder for local governments, residents and businesses to succeed, Monroe County’s credit rating is now all As for the first time in a decade, the county budget ran a $12 million surplus in 2017 and the county property tax rate hasn’t increased a penny in more than ten years.

“Instead of adopting Albany’s tax-and-spend ways, Monroe County will remain focused on growing more jobs, building better, flat-tax budgets and supporting stronger families across our community,” Dinolfo added.

Despite the “significant” rating for Monroe County’s fiscal stress, the data has improved steadily over the last couple of years. For the 2016 year end, the county received a score of 78.8, while for 2015, Monroe County earned a score of 82.1.

“Fewer local governments are considered fiscally stressed, but those with persistent financial problems are struggling to stay out of the red and fix their problems,” DiNapoli said. “While the results may be encouraging in some areas, there are municipalities that should focus on near-term financial risks and implement more prudent long-term planning.”

The monitoring system, which was implemented in 2013, evaluates local governments on nine financial indicators and creates a fiscal stress score. Indicators assess fund balance, cash-on-hand, short-term borrowing, fixed costs and patterns of operating deficits. The system also evaluates population trends, poverty and unemployment in order to determine a separate environmental score.

Of a possible score of 100, where 100 is the worst environment and 0 is the best, Monroe County received a score of 16.7.

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