Comptroller Checks Ramapo Books and the Worst gets even Worse

October 1, 2015  In 2012, the New York State Comptroller declared that the Town of Ramapo was the most fiscally stressed township in the State. At that time, Ramapo had racked up a worst-in-the-state rating of 70.8% for fiscal stress. The Supervisor’s response to the economic crisis was both simple and unnerving: The Comptroller’s numbers must be wrong. And then St. Lawrence turned the lights off in fiscal year 2013 by failing to file the Town’s financial report in time to be included in the State’s evaluation of all the townships. Unfortunately, that had very little restorative impact on the numbers, which continued to worsen as the economic stress increased. Now in the most recent numbers from the State, Ramapo has increased another 7% for a new all-time high.


Here’s how the towns in Rockland County fared in the Comptroller’s report on the most recent fiscal year, 2014. Any number above 45% is bad and indicates significant economic stress in the town.

 

Ramapo has once again elbowed its way to a new all-time high. And there seem to be no indicators offering hope that this can be reversed.

What’s Next?

Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli not only has his department formulate these profiles each year for the towns, villages, and school boards in New York State, he also works the numbers to predict future performance. Here is what the spreadsheets predict for Ramapo in the upcoming report for fiscal year 2015:

The state auditors predict this year (2015) will add another 4% of economic stress to be born by the taxpayers as St. Lawrence and his administration climb to within 18 points of a 100% train wreck. What kind of noise do you think we’re in for when the wheels come off?

The State uses a number of environmental indicators along with the revenues and costs to make these predictions. These environmental indicators are even more depressing than the tax-revenue shortfalls. Here’s what the state sees in Ramapo:  

A rapid growth in population and even more precipitous increase in the child poverty rate; a significant decrease in property values; and as the reliance on State and Federal Aid increases, availability of those funds is decreasing, significantly. It’s all trending in the wrong direction, and much of it is directly traceable to Supervisor St. Lawrence’s promiscuous Master Plan.

The School District, too!

The Comptroller also reviews the fiscal books for school districts around the state. And here, as with the Town, the East Ramapo School District appears as another local  dumpster fire now with three hapless state observers joining residents standing by and witnessing the destruction of a once exemplary school system.

The almost 90% fiscal stress level for East Ramapo places it a statistical second for worst numbers in the entire State. Actually, there are two school districts that tied for first, barely edging out ERCSD by 1.6 percentage points. Niagara-Wheatfield (Niagara County) and Wyandanch (Nassau County) were the worst statewide with 88.3% of measured economic stress.

Where do we go from here? Well, it seems that Christopher St. Lawrence and the lapdogs on board as council members are completely comfortable with their strategy for the best way out of a deep hole--just keep digging. Yesterday, at the Ramapo Town Board meeting, St. Lawrence, Brendel Logan-Charles, and Pat Withers voted to spend $350,000 on a full-size ice rink to be installed out at that great sucking money pit called the Provident Ballpark. Add the additional costs for refrigeration units and generators and another half-million taxpayer dollars will soon be shoveled into the abyss. Guess they forgot about the losses from last year’s ice-skating debacle at the Park. For those numbers read Nat, Get the Shovel—Mona, Find the ladder.

 

Michael Castelluccio
Preserve Ramapo