Thursday, July 13, 2017
Monticello, NY – Sullivan County officials were given good news today by independent auditors: County Government’s fiscal health is better than it’s been in years.
Auditor Matt Montalbo of the auditing firm of Drescher & Malecki called it a “favorable operation in 2016” while delivering his and colleague Carl Widmer’s report to legislators this morning in the Management & Budget Committee. “It has been a very positive year financially,” agreed County Treasurer Nancy Buck, whose staff worked closely with the auditing firm to ensure accurate figures.
According to Montalbo, Sullivan County ended 2016 with $9.4 million more in revenue than in 2015. Two one-time payments added millions to County coffers in 2016: $8.2 million from a refinancing of the County’s Tobacco Asset Securitization Corporation bonds, and $2.5 million from the state-mandated licensing fee for the Resorts World Catskills casino.
However, even without those revenues, County Government’s income still increased by $6 million, or about 5%. And while expenses rose by $11 million in 2016, the total $167 million in expenditures was outpaced by a total $176 million in revenues, according to Montalbo’s report. He also noted that the County paid its entire retirement obligation in 2016, rather than amortizing it as in past years.
After five years of essentially flat income but ever-climbing expenses, County officials welcomed the news.
“We are happy to say there was no need to borrow funds this past year,” Buck remarked. “In fact, we paid off all our Bond Anticipation Notes (BANs) with the refinanced Tobacco funds, and we are on track not to have to issue any Tax Anticipation Notes (TANs) this year. My staff and I are nevertheless keeping a careful eye on cash flow, and I can promise taxpayers we will not become complacent amidst better financial times.”
“These numbers are both gratifying and impressive,” noted County Manager Josh Potosek. “They demonstrate our ongoing conservative approach to budgeting, ensuring taxpayer dollars are used only where and when necessary. While the numbers continue to look good for 2017, I and the Management & Budget staff are maintaining that fiscally responsible approach for the future.”
“I thank Josh, Nancy and every member of the County’s workforce who helped us ultimately claim this true achievement,” said Legislator Scott Samuelson, who chairs the Management & Budget Committee. “They work hard every day to carefully handle the money we entrust to them, and to see us once again with a healthy fund balance – while on the cusp of a new era of development and tourism in Sullivan County – is cause for great excitement and optimism.”
“This news is very good,” acknowledged Legislature Chairman Luis Alvarez. “It’s a reflection of this Legislature’s mandate to ‘mind the store,’ and taxpayers should take heart that we take the business of their government seriously. That means that even with this welcome infusion of revenues amidst an improving economy, we will continue to ensure those monies are appropriately spent.”
The good news continues into 2017, as well, with Buck reporting today that sales tax revenues for the first half of 2017 are nearly $700,000 higher than this time last year. Mortgage and room taxes are also up over 2016, and the opening of a variety of new businesses large and small in Sullivan County over the next year promises to increase revenues, tourism and the quality of life for the County and its municipalities.