Suffolk County authorities is in horrible form financially.
The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic — because it has for governments broadly — has had a big impact on Suffolk, extra so as a result of virtually 50% of the county authorities’s price range is predicated on the gathering of gross sales tax monies — and persons are spending much less within the county.
Even earlier than COVID-19 hit, Suffolk authorities was in fiscal hassle.
New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli emphasised in a current report that the pandemic “might push extra native governments into severe fiscal stress.” He famous that for “2019, pre-pandemic,” solely 4 municipalities within the state have been in “important stress” financially: the cities of Poughkeepsie, Niagara Falls and the counties of Westchester — and Suffolk.
Mr. DiNapoli stated “the pandemic has dramatically altered the fiscal panorama, and lots of communities are struggling to offer important companies and pay their payments.” He declared that “with out assist from Washington, the choices are bleak for native governments making an attempt to remain within the black, and lots of extra native governments could also be pushed into severe fiscal stress.”
The premise for the comptroller’s “Fiscal Stress Monitoring System,” defined an announcement from his workplace, concerned “year-end funding steadiness, cash-on-hand, short-term borrowing, fastened prices and patterns of working deficits.”
A centerpiece of the marketing campaign of Suffolk County Comptroller John M. Kennedy for Suffolk County govt final yr was his cost that the incumbent, Steve Bellone, was a horrible fiscal supervisor. Mr. Bellone denied the allegation.
In any case, already in fiscal issue, on this pandemic interval the county’s monetary scenario is extra extreme. Mr. Bellone says Suffolk authorities faces a two-year $437 million price range hole and he has simply submitted an working price range for 2021 of $3.1 billion, which incorporates reducing 500 county staff out of a present 8,797 and eliminating practically half of county bus routes.
John Corrado, president of Suffolk Transportation Service, says this is able to be “devastating” to riders.
Mr. Bellone says the cuts could possibly be rescinded if the federal authorities offers enough monetary help within the months forward. The cuts are to not take impact till July 1 and could possibly be canceled earlier than then.
Nevertheless, governments all around the nation are making determined pleas for federal assist past the funds they acquired. Suffolk acquired $257 million below the federal CARES Act a number of months in the past. The U.S. Convention of Mayors, for instance, final month issued an announcement declaring: “American cities proceed to face devastating price range shortfalls as a direct results of the pandemic and the COVID recession” and the “shortfalls threaten our skill to satisfy important wants.”
Many industries, too, are making pressing pleas, as are small companies and folks harm financially by the pandemic.
Suffolk County authorities has loads of competitors.
Additionally final month, the president of the Lengthy Island Rail Street stated that and not using a $12 billion federal bailout, the MTA could be pressured to make draconian cuts, decreasing LIRR service by half, eliminating branches and enacting substantial fare hikes.
For Suffolk County authorities, it isn’t folks not taking trains that’s inflicting financial ache, however a lot has to do with the gross sales tax concern. Mr. DiNapoli additionally simply launched the newest state figures on gross sales tax collections. For the newest months tabulated, in June, cash acquired in Suffolk dropped 9.2% from final June, from $157.5 to $143 million, and in Could the drop in Suffolk was 33.5% from final Could.
We’ve lengthy written on this column concerning the perils Suffolk County authorities was dealing with in relying, more and more, on the gross sales tax, and quoting criticism in report after report by the Funds Evaluation Workplace of the Suffolk Legislature of this ever-greater gross sales tax use.
Suffolk is among the many counties within the state main in excessive utilization of the gross sales tax, which started right here in 1969.
Many Suffolk elected officers have most popular it as a result of constituents are taxed slowly and don’t get the shock of 1 huge property tax invoice. However the issue with relying on the gross sales tax to run authorities is that it’s unreliable. In good financial instances, gross sales tax collections are flush. With financial downturns, they endure a corresponding decline.
Now Suffolk County authorities is not only having a monetary wet day, however being hit with months of fiscal rain. Wanting a federal umbrella, its monetary situation is perilous.