Rockland County legislators learned Wednesday night the budget deficit from 2011 amounted to $96 million. With an audit in progress of 2012, Rockland County Finance Commissioner Stephen DeGroat warned that that amount could increase by $11 to $15 million. The auditor reviewing the county’s finances put forward a potentially higher number of $17 million.
DeGroat told the members of the legislative Budget & Finance Committee that the actual budget deficit from 2012 may not be known until mid summer when the audit is completed. DeGroat’s update came as part of the committee’s consideration of a resolution asking the state to permit Home Rule Legislation to allow it to issue a $96 million deficit bond.
Legislator Ilan Schoenberger noted that payment of an $18 million deficiency note in June 2012 might help to offset the anticipated additional shortfall in the 2012 budget. He said the county might be asking for more than it needs because the final audit of 2012 may show a deficit lower than $96 million.
DeGroat said the sale of the county owned building in Spring Valley for $4 million was expected to be finalized on Thursday. He said he was working with the state and the CPA firm auditing the county to determine if the revenue from the sale could be reflected in the 2012 audit.
The committee approved the resolution, which will go before the full county legislature on Tuesday. They also approved motions to issue $45 million of Revenue Anticipation Notes (RANs) and $55 million of Tax Anticipation Notes (TANs). DeGroat said the county issued an RFP for the notes.
“The good news is we received seven proposals,” said DeGroat, adding they were for competitive rates.
The county expects to work with Oppenheimer, which bid an interest rate of 1.45 percent for the RANs and 1.35 percent for the TANs. The cost of borrowing $100 million for the one-year notes is just over $1 million. The RANs will be issued in advance of the county receiving sales and compensating use tax revenue, mortgage recording taxes and funds from the state and federal governments. The TANs would be issued in expectation of collection of real estate taxes in 2013.
The committee passed the motion for the notes unanimously. It also approved a request of the state legislature asking for Home Rule legislation to extend the combined one percent sales and compensating use tax from December 1, 2013 until November 30, 2015. The Home Rule Legislation would extend the 3/8 of one percent and 5/8 of one percent sales and compensating use taxes beyond the current November 30, 2013 expiration. The committee approved the resolution.