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 For Immediate Release:

Media Contact:

Gabriel Joyce - TownDemocrats@gmail.com

                         760.705.8888

 

Statement From Felix Procacci: Taxpayers Need to Know the Truth 

 

When Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray speaks of the Town's finances, she always mentions the Town's AAa bond rating to describe the Town's financial situation.  A bond rating is a credit score set by a rating agency.  This score is primarily used by investors to determine if an investment is suitable for them or not.  A triple A bond may reduce borrowing costs, but it does not indicate how well a municipality is spending taxpayer money.

 

There is another measure that is used to help determine the financial health of a municipality, and that is its Net Position.  A municipality's Net Position is the difference between its assets and liabilities.

 

The Net Position for the Town of Hempstead is given in its Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR).  Unfortunately the Town does not make this report readily available and residents must submit a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request to obtain it. 

 

On page 21 of the 2012 version of this report it states "Over time, increases or decreases in the Town's Net Position is one indicator of whether its financial health is improving or deteriorating".

 

NOTE

It also indicates that the Town's tax base and assets should also be considered to determine the overall financial health. 

 

So what has the Town's Net Position been over time?  After going through each of the Town's financial audits over the last 10 years (2003 - 2012), I came up with the following results.

 

Year Ended

December 31,

 

Tax Levy For Town1

Net Assets

(Position)

General Obligation

Bond Debt

Debt

Service

2012

$400,108,896

-$19,156,151

$317,350,887

$51,645,728

2011

$397,827,746

$7,251,886

$306,159,855

$59,740,534

2010

$382,321,007

$45,040,390

$296,090,507

$54,069,161

2009

$380,485,152

$62,251,674

$266,994,653

$50,916,825

2008

$350,848,760

$96,497,651

$305,809,158

$50,640,274

2007

$347,279,817

$153,314,480

$304,017,994

$48,660,431

2006

$334,019,769

$173,480,857

$308,198,217

$47,770,202

2005

$326,053,240

$146,309,481

$308,587,632

$46,676,953

2004

$295,842,220

$125,732,331

$339,736,576

$41,026,256

2003

$279,062,505

$133,888,572

$238,618,208

$41,926,770

1 Total tax levy for Town includes all Town controlled funds, Commissioner operated funds, Fire Districts and Library Districts.

 

This data shows that the Town's Net Position has steadily decreased since 2007 by about $192 million dollars, the tax levy increased about 43%, and the debt service (principal plus interest) increased 23%.  The major cause of the decline of the Town's Net Position is due to the Town's other postemployment benefits (OPEB) costs. 

 

So why aren't these other factors presented to the public in any of the 20+ mailings sent out by the Murray administration each year?

 

Residents are made to believe, just because the Town has a AAa bond rating that the Town is fiscally responsible.  Last years' audit of the Hempstead Animal shelter by the State Comptroller showed just the opposite, and its operation has been characterized as a case study of financial mismanagement.  Supervisor Murray's public response to the audit results has been that the Town reduced the animal shelter's budget by over $3 million dollars to comply.  This statement is also misleading.  The $3 million dollars she is referring to is the shelter's administrative charge.  The criticism by the State Comptroller was that there were no records to show how this money was actually spent and some of it was misappropriated.  The State Comptroller also criticized the fact that employee benefits were not included in the budget and that salaries at the shelter were excessive (averaging over $79,000).

 

If Supervisor Murray is going to advertise herself as a model of fiscal responsibility, she should present all relevant data to the public.

 

Residents are welcome to call me to discuss this at my campaign HQ at 516.341.7880. 


Thank you,

 

Felix Procacci

Open Government Advocate and

Hempstead Town Supervisor Candidate

 

  Felix for ToH Supervisor

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