Albany County Comptroller: 'State Of The Fisc' Stable To Strong

May 14, 2019

Each spring, Albany County Comptroller Mike Conners delivers his “State of the Fisc” address to the County Legislature, reviewing the fiscal condition of the previous year.  Conners delivered his final such address Monday night.

The longest tenured Chief Fiscal Officer in Albany County history, Conners has given the address annually for the past 24 years.    "It's the fiscal condition of Albany County for the year 2018. We call it 'The State of The Fisc, ' which is basically a French word derived from Greek about the meaning of money or budget for government."

Conners is a Democrat who is not seeking another term. He says his address gives legislators a real-time response following his office's annual update with the State Comptroller.   "We give them numbers of what really happened. In English that means we're going to attribute to 2018, real costs for 2018, costs that were incurred in 2018, and then real revenues that were collected in 2018, so that way you can really look at what actually did happen."

Conners says the state of the fisc is stable to strong.  "On a roughly $700 million of spending last year, the county's operation had a net of $5 million. That's not a very big amount but it's certainly better than negative. And we were able to increase the undesignated fund balance or the surplus by $3 million, so we have roughly $49 million in this surplus fund balance, and our overall fund balance is roughly $67 million. So those are solid and strong numbers."

But Conners warns of risks on the road ahead.  "Just one of them this year from the state was that we are now fronting the money starting July the first for the A.I.M. funding for villages and towns, so if the state gets away with that, which they have, they're going to do the same thing probably in other areas."

Conners notes state aid has dropped this year by $5.4 million.   "Federal aid went up about $345,000. The total federal aid $73 million, state aid $58 million, so you can see that we're over $35 million dollars less in those two aids combined, to what we get from sales tax."

And sales tax erosion, mainly caused by the internet, is one concern that troubles Conners.   "In Albany County we collect more sales tax revenue for the county share of sales tax than our federal aid and state aid combined by about $30 million. So  if you think about this, if the property tax is $89 million and the sales tax is $167 million, and sales tax goes down by 10 percent, which is not an unheard of decree, it's the old argument that that 10 percent decline would be catastrophic for places like Guilderland, Knox, Berne, you know, a bunch of the towns as well."

The race to replace Conners has taken shape. Among the candidates in June’s Democratic primary are Albany city Treasurer Darius Shahinfar and Chief Auditor Sue Rizzo.

Previous Years' Addresses

All documents, including slides, are in PDF format