Clarkstown Republicans up in arms over credit downgrade

Hoehmann, Borelli blame Gromack


photo 1NEW CITY – Clarkstown Republican leaders are not happy with Standard and Poor’s recent decision to downgrade the town’s credit rating and are pinning the blame on Supervisor Alexander Gromack, accusing him of years of fiscal mismanagement.

Town Councilman George Hoehmann, who announced his candidacy for town supervisor in May, argued Gromack’s inability to present a balanced budget slowly eroded Clarkstown’s fiscal viability until S&P finally decided on a downgrade.

“This is more than a warning sign,” Hoehmann said at a press event Wednesday afternoon. “It is a true indication that our town is moving in the wrong direction. It has become clear that Supervisor Gromack is unable to adequately address our Town’s financial situation and we need a change.”

S&P explained it downgraded the town’s credit due largely to diminishing reserve funds and repeated draw downs. According to the report, Clarkstown’s reserves have dipped below the minimum level allowable by their investment policy, losses which became difficult to address due to declining general fund balances which had persisted over the course of six years.

photo 2Though the town still retains a “stable” outlook, S&P warned further downgrades would be pursued if immediate action was not taken in the short term.

“If financial balance is not attained and reserves decline to levels we consider adequate, further downward rating action is likely,” the report stated. “Given the sustained decline in reserves and the number of consecutive drawdowns in recent years, we view upside rating potential as limited within the two-year outlook horizon.”

Hoehmann and Borelli argued they had known of the Town’s ailing fiscal state for years, but were frequently prevented from pursuing their own fiscal policies by the majority Democratic board.

“The only reason Standard & Poors didn’t lower the rating even lower than they did was because they recognized efforts that George and I initiated such as consolidation of services and alternative budget proposals that saved taxpayer dollars,” Borelli said.

The two have presented counter-proposals over the last few budget cycles which included consolidations, cuts and long-term operations changes. Last year, Hoehmann posed a counter-budget which would have shaved $2.3 million from town expenditures, but was forced to compromise and only managed to include $1.8 million in cuts.

Borelli added that the suggested cuts would be pursued more aggressively and that he expected the downgrade to be a “wake-up call” for the board. S&P suggested tax increases, as well, but Hoehmann dismissed the idea as unnecessary and unacceptable.

“Neither one of us are looking to have tax increases, so that is off the table,” Hoehmann said.

County Executive Ed Day also attended the press event, throwing his support behind Clarkstown’s Republican minority. The county executive was unavailable for comment following the event. Day has had his own recent conflicts with Gromack, butting heads with the Democratic supervisor after Gromack suggested the county executive’s pursuit of refunds on alleged improper stipends for sewer commissioners was a political tactic.


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