Red Hook village ‘fiscally stressed,’ according to state ratings

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The village of Red Hook has been put on a list of 15 villages in the state that are in some level of fiscal stress, according to the state comptroller.

The village was one of seven found to be “susceptible to fiscal stress,” the lowest of three stress levels used by the state in its Fiscal Stress Monitoring System. The system evaluated 535 villages that have fiscal years ending on May 31 to determine their ratings.

A news release Feb. 7 from the comptroller’s office said the system uses financial indicators — including year-end fund balance, cash position and patterns of operating deficits — to create an overall fiscal stress score, which classifies whether a municipality is in “significant fiscal stress,” in “moderate fiscal stress,” “susceptible to fiscal stress,” or “no designation.”

Red Hook was the only Dutchess County village to get a fiscal-stress rating. Seven others — Rhinebeck, Tivoli, Millerton, Pawling, Fishkill and Wappingers Falls — got a “no designation.”

According to the release, fiscally stressed villages “nearly all operate with both low fund balance and budget deficits. More than 40 percent have relied on short-term debt to bridge cash flow gaps. [They] also share a number of environmental themes, including: declining property values, above average or growing child poverty rates and a shrinking employment base.”

In the release, State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli noted, “Although the number of villages designated as fiscally stressed is small, village officials across the state must be on alert. Moving forward, the drivers of fiscal stress will continue to hamper villages in many of the same ways it does our larger municipalities. I continue to emphasize to local officials that the best way their community can avoid falling into fiscal stress is through sensible budgeting and careful long-term planning.”

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