Back in Black
To quote the AC/DC song of the same name, “I’ve been too long I’m glad to be back.” For the first time since 2006, Rockland has an unassigned positive fund balance in its general fund (a surplus). Almost $6.3 million to be exact. While that may not sound like a whole lot in a budget of almost $700 million it is an extremely positive step. The unassigned fund balance was negative $4 million in 2016.
To you and me what that means is this; for the first time in twelve years, our bank account is not overdrawn. We are balanced, we are stronger, we have turned the corner and are pulling ourselves out of the fiscal morass we inherited just four short years ago.
This information was included in the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for the 2017 budget that was recently released by Marks Paneth, the county’s outside financial auditors. With the release of this report we begin a new chapter in the story of Rockland County. Together we have brought Rockland back from the brink of bankruptcy. The fact that we have managed this after having a $138 million deficit in 2014 in miraculous.
But I did not – could not have done this on my own. It was only with the help of our dedicated employees, department heads, commissioners, unions and the Rockland county legislature that together we have been able to accomplish so much in such a short amount of time.
We made the hard choices and after four and a half years they are starting to pay dividends. But this struggle is not yet over, while we hit a huge benchmark and are finally “in the black,” we have a long way to go until we reach full financial strength. General government accounting principles demand that we have a fund balance in the area of $50 million to truly be a fiscally healthy county.
This financial report is just the latest good news after seven consecutive bond rating upgrades from the credit rating agencies. All this shows that our careful cost benefit analysis and strategic approach to budgeting is paying off.
I look forward to continuing to work together with my colleagues from the legislature as we look to grow this fund balance through continued careful budgeting and smart compromises that will help Rockland county prosper. “Yes, I’m back in black.”