The New York State Comptroller’s Office has acknowledged the greatly-improved fiscal condition of Peekskill by dramatically lowering of the city’s financial stress monitoring score.
In 2012, in the Office of the New York State Comptroller implemented a “fiscal stress” monitoring system as a method of warning municipalities of imminent financial difficulties. In grading a municipality and assigning a score, the Comptroller’s Office monitors factors such as a city’s unrestricted fund balance and whether budgets are balanced or operate on deficits. The score reflects the fiscal integrity of the city.
In announcing Peekskill’s score of 11.3 for Fiscal Year 2016, the comptroller cited the above factors in substantially lowering our score. In Fiscal Year 2015, our score was 21.3. In Fiscal Year 2014, it was 32.5(!) putting Peekskill near having our finances taken over by a state-appointed monitor. This reduction marks an almost 70 percent reduction in fiscal stress and liability.
“When I took office, my administration inherited a string of seven operating deficits that totaled over $18 million, averaging over $3 million per year,” Catalina said in a Tuesday press release. “Those deficits represented about 10 percent of our annual budget, meaning those who passed those budgets were not even close to balancing them. The 2014 budget I inherited upon taking office was not accepted lying down. We hit the ground, cutting spending in every corner of that budget. Our hard work was recognized by the Comptroller’s Office with an improved stress score of 21.3 for Fiscal Year 2015, followed by this phenomenal score for Fiscal Year 2016. I knew we had turned the city’s finances around and am extremely proud our hard work has been recognized by the Comptroller’s Office. A greatly improved bond rating will surely follow.”
Peekskill has had a string of balanced operating budgets during two Catalina terms. The prior administration burned through an $11.2 million fund balance (to cover those operating deficits) between 2008-2013, leaving an unrestricted fund balance of $7,500 on the first day of this administration. We have turned in $3.6 million of surplus funds in three years and have finally been able to address long neglected capital improvements and projects while still maintaining over $2.6 million in our unrestricted fund balance.
“I knew we turned Peekskill around not only by balancing our budgets and turning in surpluses, but by the tremendous influx of new residential and commercial development,” added the mayor. “This development will stabilize our tax base for years to come. People feel the positive vibe sweeping our city. Property owners have seen home values rise over 20 percent since we took office. The comptroller’s findings are a signal to investors and smart buyers that Peekskill has turned around and is the premier destination between White Plains and Albany for commercial and residential investment as well as entertainment.”