The following is a statement from Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone reacting to the report from the independent Fiscal Task Force announcing Suffolk County has a 3-year deficit of $530 million. The report was announced today at a panel of the Suffolk County Legislature Committee on Budget and Finance. To read the report in PDF form, click here.
"Today is a very important day for Suffolk County residents because today we learn the facts about our County's fiscal situation. After weeks of analyzing our County's finances, our fiscal assumptions and our costs we now have a picture of the real state of our finances. And the truth is worse than any of us could have imagined.
"After being told the 2011 budget was balanced, I was stunned to learn it was actually out of balance by more than $33 million, the first time Suffolk County ended a year in deficit in 20 years. Now we now that the picture is even worse going forward, a projected $148 million deficit for 2012, rising to $349 million by 2013.
"It is not pleasant, but it is reality. There are two ways to deal with reality, you can embrace it or you can deny it. I choose to embrace reality and build Suffolk County's finances on an honest foundation.
"This afternoon, I will formally declare a fiscal emergency in Suffolk County under authority granted to me by the County Charter. This will give me the ability to immediately embargo up to 10% of the funds in each Department's budget. Tomorrow, I will be meeting with our countywide elected officials and the leaders of our public sector unions to begin the process of addressing this shortfall.
"In the coming days and weeks I will be working with elected officials at all levels of government including the Legislature on a mitigation plan to put this County back on a fiscally sustainable path. This process will not be easy, it will undoubtedly require difficult and painful steps. But I am confident that by engaging the public with the facts, by choosing the path of cooperation over the path of blame, by including our workforce in the solution and by working together, we will emerge stronger, and remind people why this is a great community to live, work, and build a business.
"I want to thank Comptroller Joe Sawicki, Treasurer Angie Carpenter, Legislative Budget Review Office and the Executive Budget Office for working together and providing the members of our Fiscal Task Force the data they needed to compile this report.
"We all owe a debt of gratitude to the members of the Task Force for providing an independent, expert analysis of the fiscal condition of our County. These seven financial experts did not receive one dime of compensation for their efforts, they volunteered countless hours in the best traditions of public service and wanting to see this County succeed."
The Task Force was comprised of:
• Chairman Richard Halverson of Hampton Bays is a Former Assistant Deputy Director of the New York City Financial Control Board and served as Deputy Comptroller of the City of New York.
• Michael Solomon of Oceanside is a Managing Director in the Public Finance Department at Ramirez & Co, one of the nation’s oldest minority owned investment banking firms. Mr. Solomon has over 25 years of experience working with state and local governments in developing successful capital finance, debt management, budget and credit rating strategies.
• Charles K. Stein of Coram, has served as a Suffolk County Deputy County Executive for Finance and has over 40 years of financial management experience including serving as Vice President of Business and Financial Affairs at Suffolk County Community College.
• Edward W. Moneypenny of Southampton is a Former Chief Financial Officer at 7-Eleven, Inc. and also served in that capacity at two Fortune 500 Companies. He also currently serves on the audit committee for several major corporations.
• Stuart Klein of Rockville Centre has over 35 years of experience in governmental budgeting and financial reporting. He recently retired from New York City’s Office of Management and Budget where he served as the first deputy director for 16 years. He is currently a consultant to the Citizens Budget Commission.
• Nathan Leventhal of Westhampton is a Former Deputy Mayor of New York City, Director of Dreyfus Mutual Funds and served as the President of Lincoln Center for 16 years.
• Steven Newman of Douglaston, currently serves as the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Public Health Solutions. For more than 20 years he served in the New York City Comptroller’s Office as First Deputy Comptroller and Chief of Staff in two administrations.