Oyster Bay Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino and the Town Board today announced that independently-audited financial results indicate the administration and Town Board produced a net $19.2 million budgetary surplus for Town coffers in 2019. This is the third straight surplus produced by the Saladino administration. As a result, the Town now has $27.4 million in reserves – the highest level since 2008. Due to the rapidly improved financial health of the Town, in 2020 there will be no borrowing for cash-flow purposes for the second straight year, even with the declining and delayed revenues due to the global public health pandemic.
Supervisor Saladino stated, “From cutting property taxes by $3.9 million over three years to new policies that restrict spending, this Town Board has rightsized finances to protect taxpayers. These independently-audited results illustrate that strong management and fiscal discipline can produce budgetary surpluses while eliminating deficits and returning money to taxpayers through a tax cut.”
Earlier this year, certified public accountants Cullen & Danowski, LLP conducted an annual audit of Town finances to close out the 2019 fiscal year. This accounting, auditing, and financial consulting firm confirmed the $19.2 million surplus produced by the 2019 Town of Oyster Bay management team. These audited financial statements, available for public review, will be utilized by Wall Street when determining the Town of Oyster Bay’s bond rating in the coming weeks.
Supervisor Saladino added, “From enhanced internal financial controls to holding departments accountable for their budgets, the Town Board and I have restored fiscal accountability and moved beyond the financial problems of the past. We are proud of the many milestones reached in returning fiscal stability to the Town. Together with Town Board, my administration has instilled fiscal discipline that has led to responsible budgeting practices for the future of our Town. We reduced total Town debt by record-breaking numbers while cutting property taxes for the first time in decades. Our overall success has been recognized by Wall Street through bond rating upgrades which help save money for taxpayers. We look forward to more positive reviews from Wall Street in the weeks ahead.”
Since taking office in 2017, Supervisor Saladino and the Town Board have cut property taxes while reducing debt and the operational budget deficit. In fact, the 2020 Town Budget sustained the $1.3 million property tax cut first approved by the Town Board for 2018 and maintained in 2019. As a result, $3.9 million is in the pockets of taxpayers rather than the coffers of government. Total Town debt has also declined, from a high of $763 million to $603 million at the beginning of 2020, bringing this administration’s three-year cumulative debt reduction to a grand total of $160 million.
While fiscally-conservative monitoring limits new spending, costs not under the Town’s control will continue to rise due to unfunded State-mandated expenses such as employee healthcare costs, pension contributions, and the MTA Payroll Tax. The 2020 Town Budget continues to constrain government spending that is under its control while delivering the important services residents have come to expect and deserve. The Budget includes a savings of $9 million in full-time salaries when compared to 2016 due to the elimination of 150 positions. The full-time workforce for 2020 has been reduced from a high of 1,250 employees nearly seven years ago to just over 1,000 employees. This 20% workforce reduction saves significant dollars in terms of salary and pension costs for this generation and future generations. Despite this workforce reduction, the Town of Oyster Bay is delivering better services and at less cost to taxpayers. Savings have also been achieved for taxpayers through efficiencies and the elimination of past wasteful spending practices. Costs related to contractor services and outside consultants have been reduced, hundreds of thousands of dollars are being saved through the installation of LED lighting, fiber optic communication costs are being cut, more engineering projects in-house, new concessions are generating greater revenue for taxpayers, banks and lending institutions holding vacant properties are being held responsible for costs related to maintenance of zombie homes and the Town continues to pursue restitution from companies allegedly responsible for disrepair at the Town’s Commuter Parking Garage in Hicksville and from those who admitted to fraud against Town taxpayers.
Supervisor Saladino concluded, “While challenges will always remain, the Town has left behind the years of fiscal instability from the prior administration thanks to stronger financial management, debt reduction initiatives, greater efficiencies and innovative programs designed to better serve residents and save the taxpayers more money. This administration and Town Board will continue to govern with fiscally conservative budgeting practices that place the utmost importance on protecting your wallet and moving our community forward.”
The 2019 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report is available at www.oysterbaytown.com/wp-content/uploads/2019-CAFR-Final.pdf .