Hempstead Town Supervisor Anthony J. Santino today announced that the strict fiscal discipline and cost controls imposed by his administration have eliminated the $23.5 million operating deficit included in the 2016 budget that he inherited upon assuming office. In addition, the town’s completed financial report for 2016 shows that Santino’s tight-fisted management of town finances actually added $5 million to town reserve funds during the 2016 budget year.
Joining the Supervisor at a press briefing detailing Hempstead’s “$29 million turnaround” were Senior Councilwoman Dorothy Goosby, Councilman Anthony D’Esposito and Town Clerk Nasrin Ahmad.
“Aggressively managing our town’s budget, controlling costs and accounting for every dollar of revenue that is due our government have been key priorities from the moment that I took office as town Supervisor,” stated Santino. “By ‘doing more with less’ and ‘putting taxpayers first,’ I was able to transform a budget that called for the further depletion of $23.5 million in town reserve funds into a solid ‘fiscal success’ that actually added $5 million to the town’s surplus accounts in just one year.”
Hempstead’s net operating and expenditure budget for 2016 totaled $436.4 million. That financial document, which Santino inherited as Supervisor, included the use of $23.5 million in reserve funds to meet operational expenses. Immediately upon taking office in January of 2016, Santino scrupulously pored over the budget to determine where costs could be cut and how to ensure that all revenues due to the town were maximized. As a result, both revenue and expense estimates outperformed budget projections, presenting positive news for the residents of America’s largest township.
“I am pleased to work with Supervisor Santino to produce sound and sensible budgets that show the highest regard for taxpayers,” said Goosby. “Our government is committed to producing balanced budgets that fund important services at the lowest possible cost.”
Contributing to the $29 million budget turnaround were some major cost cutting measures instituted by Santino in the areas of labor costs and discretionary spending. Slashing labor costs by $7 million from the budgeted amount of $181.6 million, the Supervisor reduced overtime, trimmed staffing levels and put an early retirement program in place. In total, Santino cut $10.9 million in discretionary costs (those costs not mandated by state or obligated through contractual negotiations) from the $82.1 million budgeted figure.
Other commonsense cost-saving initiatives included:
· The purchase of used ‘low mileage’ trucks at a substantial cost savings over purchasing ‘showroom new’ models
· Utilization of a lower cost brine, beet juice solution rather than straight salt to treat roads in advance of a snow storm
· Refitting all town street-lighting with high-efficiency LED lamps
· Using on-line posting of required legal notices rather than expensive old-fashioned print publishing in multiple newspapers
· Employment of lower cost, part-time snow plow operators to save on excessive overtime during snow emergencies
On the revenue side of the budget, departmental revenues were up by $4.6 million over budgeted amounts (building department fees, clerk’s office receipts, parks facilities’ fees). Additionally, sales tax revenues exceeded budget by $1.5 million and mortgage recording receipts outpaced the town’s fiscal document by $6.3 million.
“Hempstead Town is controlling costs and carefully monitoring revenues,” observed D’Esposito. “Our fiscal performance is benefitting taxpayers while earning the respect of budget analysts.”
The Supervisor indicated that the town’s financial vigilance demonstrated full accountability to taxpayers while earning the respect of Wall Street credit rating agencies. Indeed, Santino’s administration has recently earned its third successive upgrade in the township’s credit outlook since the Supervisor assumed the reigns of town government 14 months ago.
In fact, respected Wall Street rating agency Standard & Poors acknowledged in its upgrade report “…the town has begun to restore fiscal stability and work toward stabilizing its financial position and improving and restoring reserve levels.” Further, Standard & Poors recognized the town for its “ongoing cuts in discretionary spending (as required by the new town supervisor)…”
Not content to rest on his impressive turnaround of the 2016 Hempstead Town Budget that he inherited upon taking office, Santino produced his first budget, the 2017 budget, to positive reviews. Wall Street rating agencies observed that the Supervisor presented the first structurally balanced town budget in over 25 years, meaning that budgeted revenues are sufficient to meet expense amounts without reliance on the use of reserve funds.
Santino accomplished this impressive goal by slashing the town’s 2017 budget by 3 percent ($13.4 million) over the 2016 financial document. It is worth noting that since assuming office, the town’s full-time workforce has been reduced by nearly 7 percent and the part-time ranks by 24 percent.
“Families in Hempstead Town and across our nation have to live within a budget, and they deserve at least one level of government that shares their commitment to fiscal responsibility,” concluded Santino. “By aggressively controlling costs and holding town managers accountable, we were able to turn a $23.5 million shortfall in the township’s 2016 budget into a $5 million surplus. Excellent fiscal management is my commitment to Hempstead Town’s residents.”