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Rebuttal of Nick Bove letter to the editor

October 31, 2018 05:32 pm

To the editor:

We felt compelled to respond to the recent “My View” editorial by Mr. Nick Bove. We will not comment on his philosophical thoughts of elections or quality of candidates or county legislative members. Our particular rebuttal is limited to his completely erroneous claim that “Greene County is on the road to bankruptcy.” (emphasis added)

Nothing could be further from the truth! At the present time, Greene County is in its best financial position anytime in its history. Let us state that again: by every measurable statistic, Greene County finances are in wonderful condition.

Let’s start with the independent annual evaluation by NYS Controller DiNapoli. By his measurement our finances are rated the highest. DiNapoli issues an annual report that audits the financial condition of every NYS governmental entity. It evaluates cash flow, fund balances, annual expenditures and receipts. Greene County earns the highest score available.

Second, of the 57 counties outside of NYC, Greene has the 42nd lowest county property tax rate. We do not experience budget deficits. Every fiscal year ends with budget surpluses. We have never issued Revenue Anticipation Notes unlike other NY Counties which illustrate that our annual cash position is unparalleled.

The total debt level of the county is at a mere four (4) percent of its maximum bonding authority. Our credit rating by Moody’s Investor Services is a very strong Double AA3 rating. Our independent or outside auditor has never discovered any deficiencies in our internal control methods or our accounting practices.

Next, in seven of the last eight years, during our respective tenures, the annual county budget has fallen within the parameters of the Governor’s Tax Cap legislation: of not raising taxes more than the rate of inflation or higher than two percent, whichever is lower. This includes the budget just recently released for FY 2019. Budget projections for the next two (2) years estimate that this success will be continued.

Since the great economic collapse of 2008-2009 Greene County’s Fund Balances have steadily risen, further demonstrating the overall condition of our budget and our finances. Our approach to budgeting is to always conservatively estimate revenues/receipts and to honestly project annual expenses. This is why our finances are so strong. We approach the budget formulation with complete respect to reality, never ignoring true costs which have always resulted in budget surpluses.

Mr. Bove has the right to his own opinion, but he does not have the right to his own facts. And the facts are clear: Greene County is not on the road to bankruptcy. On the contrary, the finances of the county are the strongest they have ever been, and will continue that way.

Peter Markou, Greene County Treasurer

Shaun S. Groden, Greene County Administrator

- Below-average socio-economic indicators

-Reliance on economically-sensitive sales tax revenue

And 90,000,000 in an economically worthless jail that generates no new jobs or revenue, will not help either, Mr. Markout. We need a clean broom. Your quoting ten year old Moody's findings on an $11M gen obligation bond, not a $60M bond for a final cost $90M + Jail with no new tax revenues generated.

Thursday, Nov, 1, Groden was already calling for a larger jail than the 80 beds, and implying that our taxes will be raised by "no more than 25%!!" Our taxes would remain flat if we entered sharing agreements with Columbia, Ulster and Albany Counties for our different detainee populations at current levels. This would translate into $100,000,000 over thirty years that we would avoid spending on Groden's disastrous "plan." Markout will be long buried and gone when his bad math hits the fan and the taxpayers reap the whirlwind.