JOHNSTOWN - The state Comptroller's Office recently issued a report saying Fulton County government is "financially stable," Board of Supervisors Chairman William Waldron said last week.
"Fulton County's responsibilities are handled extremely well," Waldron told the board. "What money we do have, we spend it well."
The board chairman was alluding to a "fiscal stress report" about Fulton County issued by the office of state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.
County Administrative Officer Jon Stead wrote in a June 24 memo to all supervisors that DiNapoli last year launched a project to create what he called a "fiscal-stress monitoring system" to evaluate local municipalities in New York state.
"I am pleased to report that Fulton County fared very well in the comptroller's final ratings," Stead wrote.
He said the comptroller's scale found that a 45 percent rating or higher means the municipalities are "susceptible to fiscal stress," and that 65 percent or higher indicates "significant fiscal stress." He said a low percentage is good, while a higher percentage is bad.
Stead wrote that Fulton County's ratings for financial and environmental indicators were 19.2 percent and 14.2 percent, respectively, which puts it on the lower end of the fiscal-stress scale. Environmental indicators refer to such criteria as poverty, unemployment rates and reliance on aid.
"The leadership and conservative financial decisions that the Board of Supervisors [have] implemented in recent years [have] stabilized the county's financial position," Stead wrote. "The board deserves credit for being proactive."
Fulton County Treasurer Terry Blodgett said the New York State County Treasurer's Association forwarded a June 25 letter to DiNapoli to express its views on the fiscal-stress monitoring program. He said the letter says counties are aware of the causes of fiscal stress, which all relate to unfunded state mandates.
"The comptroller spends all this time and money on who's in financial trouble," Blodgett said. "We know who's in trouble. They need to use the money to reduce mandates."
Blodgett noted 70 percent of Fulton County's taxes are created from unfunded mandates.
The letter, in part, stated: "You took a first step with the development of your fiscal-stress measuring tool. We encourage you to take a more important next step and use your considerable influence to stress the need for meaningful mandate relief to the governor and the legislature. Without such a step, your fiscal monitoring tool may be able to predict when each domino will fall, but will do nothing to stop them from falling."
Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.