Standard & Poor’s upgraded the Town of Hempstead bond rating from an A+ to an AA- with a positive outlook.
The outlook is based on the town’s 2016 audited financials.
The report noted the town’s “recent and projected strong budgetary performance and increased budget flexibility” and its “focus on controlling expenses through numerous internal controls,” such as the town’s “implementation of several levels of approvals for purchases, as well as inventory control to prevent extraneous purchases.”
The town was also recognized for “maintaining a formal capital plan with funding sources identified.”
The report went on to say that the “positive outlook reflects S&P Global Ratings’ expectation that the town will likely continue to balance growing expenses with a now-more-stable revenue stream, resulting in available reserves in the general fund reaching and maintaining at least 15 percent of expenditures, a level the rating service considers very strong.”
Supervisor Laura Gillen said in a statement that she was “pleased that our financial outlook is positive and I’m confident that the fiscally-responsible measures, along with the economic development strategies my administration has been putting in place, will move us toward even more secure footing in the future.”
She added that the town’s administration and board are “fully committed to streamlining the cost of government and moving transformative economic development projects forward in order to create the best environment for taxpayers.”
Those projects include the re-opened Nassau Coliseum and the Memorial Sloan Kettering Medical Center development.
Comptroller Kevin Conroy told LIBN the town would be introducing zero-based budgeting. “It effectively looks at the budgeting procedure more comprehensively,” he said, adding that it calls for “a narrative” on “how you define” an expense.
Under zero-based budgeting, department commissioners would start from zero, with a fresh decision for expenses each year. In some instances, a department may need to increase spending in a particular year if, for example, there’s a need to invest in maintaining or purchasing equipment.
Noting that then town’s commissioners do “ a good job” when it comes to running departments, Councilwoman Erin King Sweeney, there are “always ways to save money.”
The move, she said, would enable the board to have an “ongoing smart conversation” and that “put ourselves in a better fiscal position.”