It’s official: For the second year in a row, Suffolk County has been rated the most fiscally stressed county in the state. This assessment is not from some think tank; this is directly from the New York State comptroller’s office, and the report shows what I have been saying all along: Suffolk is in a fiscal crisis.
To say that the county is showing “significant” fiscal stress, like the report said, is a gross understatement. According to the state comptroller, Suffolk’s general fund balance is running a deficit of more than $91 million. That is more than three times the figure from three years ago.
It also shows that, since 2016, expenditures have outpaced revenues. That is because our current county executive, Steve Bellone, is spending more than the county is taking in and continues to borrow against our future. And because of our junk bond status, he will borrow at higher interest rates, burdening the county’s taxpayers.
This is not a problem that can be solved by increasing taxes. The truth of the matter is, unlike what Bellone would have you believe, most county taxpayers in its five western towns have experienced annual tax increases averaging about 4 percent per year over the past several years, well above the 2 percent tax cap. County residents are simply taxed too much and can no longer afford to live here.
We are in a fiscal free fall, with insufficient cash flow, making it difficult to pay the county’s bills. We are now in a position where we are having difficulty meeting our financial obligations from week to week. Many of our vendors are receiving delayed payments, putting significant financial stress on them as well. It means these companies will not meet payroll, employees will not be paid on time, jobs will be in jeopardy and, in many cases, a reduction in services to the taxpayers.
The tax-and-spend policies of this administration have created this fiscal crisis and have hurt Suffolk taxpayers. This has to end.
John M. Kennedy is a candidate for Suffolk County executive.