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Saturday, August 15, 2020

Top Stories > General

Financial future forecasts ‘doom and gloom'

Jul 13, 2020

By Isabel Braverman - staff writer

MONTICELLO — It's no surprise that the economy is hurting from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. As people stay home and stores close, a decrease in sales tax is imminent.
Sullivan County Treasurer Nancy Buck told legislators during the Management and Budget Committee meeting on Thursday that she had some “doom and gloom” news.
Revenue from sales tax, mortgage tax and gaming revenue from Resorts World Catskills Casino is down from last year.
At the state level, the 2020-21 budget financial plan anticipates a 15.5 percent drop in state sales tax collections for April 2020 through March 2021.

However, room tax revenue is up. Buck said this is due to payments from Airbnb, which pays the county every month. It was almost triple what the county received last year.
“So people are up here, they're definitely up here,” Buck said, referring to people coming from New York City or other areas during the pandemic.
Buck stated that revenue the county gets from the state is down by $1.5 million. The county also owes over $6 million in bond payments.
“Where is this money coming from?” Buck asked.
She said she already borrowed $10 million in tax anticipation notes this year and is in the process of borrowing another $10 million.
The Office of the New York State Comptroller recently came out with a report titled “Under Pressure: Local Government Revenue Challenges During the COVID-19 Pandemic.”
It says that reductions in sales tax, property tax and state and federal funding, combined with additional costs of public health spending to combat the crisis will have longer-term economic implications.
“While reopening has begun, State leaders have been clear about the expected adverse impacts of these economic developments on the State's coffers,” the report states.
The county has already undertaken some measures to alleviate the financial burden imposed on it by the coronavirus pandemic.
One of the courses of action was a pay cut for county employees making over $100,000, as well as the option for elected officials and all employees to take a voluntary pay cut.
Commissioner of Management and Budget Janet Young said 18 employees have opted to take the cut, which will realize a savings of $30,000, in addition to the approximately $50,000 in savings from the other employees.
Buck said three employees in her office, in addition to herself, volunteered to take the pay cut.
“That's just to show you that they truly feel this county is in a [poor] financial situation right now, and we have to do whatever we can to get out of it,” Buck remarked.
She pointed out that it took five years to come back from the 2008 economic recession.
“I'm optimistic that because we have resorts we didn't have back in 2008 that we'll come back sooner,” she said. “I hate to be doom and gloom, but we're going to have another rough year.”
Buck and other county officials say they hope to get aid from state and federal government.
“The effect on the bottom lines of New York's local governments from the loss of these revenues will be profound,” the Comptroller's report says. “Without substantial help from the federal government, many local governments will likely be forced to make painful cuts to services, even if they have no additional costs for providing new services related to COVID-19.”

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