Hempstead Town’s dramatic financial turnaround has caught the attention of budget watchers, including New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli. In a just-released “fiscal stress” report by New York State’s fiscal watchdog, Hempstead Town’s level of “fiscal stress” has dropped from 62.5% in 2015 to 28.3% in 2016. The 55% improvement removes the township from the state’s designation list of municipalities with “moderate fiscal stress” and places it in the most favorable “fiscal stress” category available, which is entitled “no designation.” The report is a key indicator of the fiscal stability of local governments.
“I am delighted that the town’s level of fiscal stress has dropped from 62.5% in 2015 to 28.3% in 2016,” stated Hempstead Town Supervisor Anthony J. Santino. “That is a dramatic 55% improvement in the town’s fiscal stress rating that has occurred during my tenure as Town Supervisor. This accomplishment will assure neighbors that our government is managing their tax dollars in a sound and sensible manner.”
Santino, who took office in January of 2016, has been widely credited with reforming the 2016 town budget, which he inherited from the previous administration. In fact, the Supervisor’s financial management team transformed a $23.5 million budgeted deficit into a $5 million operational surplus in the 2016 budget. In a no-nonsense fiscal reform agenda, Santino slashed discretionary spending by over 10% in 2016, axed overtime costs, reduced the size of the workforce and held managers accountable in order to improve the township’s fiscal well-being.
Some of the areas where the town showed upgraded performance over the 2015 figures according to the Comptroller’s report include the growth of township’s fund balance and the reduction of short-term debt. The town’s debt service (as a percentage of revenues) also compared favorably with other Long Island towns. Perhaps most impressive, the township’s operating surplus for 2016 replaced a budgeted deficit that was inherited by Santino upon taking office as Supervisor.
In responding to the State Comptroller’s report and reviewing his own budgeting record as Supervisor, Santino noted that he cut spending in the 2016 budget, slashed the 2017 budget by
$14 million below the 2016 amount; and he announced that his 2018 budget will represent a $3.7 million reduction from the 2017 spending plan.
“Hempstead Town is financially well managed and accountable to our taxpayers,” concluded Santino. “I am proud that the New York State Comptroller has recognized the fiscal reforms that my administration has implemented. Providing good-quality services in a cost-effective and responsible manner demonstrates the highest level of respect for taxpayers.”