Thursday, December 9, 2010



Out of Comptrol

(Copyright © 2010, Electric Valley Media LLC All Rights Reserved)

This past week, the Ulster County Legislature's voted to cut $55,000 from the Ulster County Comptroller Elliott Auerbach's budget. On the one hand, to many people, this move might be seen as an example of fiscal restraint in an era of economic uncertainty. And there can be no doubt that "cutting spending" is a mantra that is currently resonating from coast to coast.

To others, however, these cuts would appear to be ill advised. The office of the county comptroller was created as part of a major overhaul to the Ulster County government. As such, it is tasked with ensuring that taxpayer dollars are spent in a responsible manner, a job that should not be taken lightly in the current climate.

Yet the legislature voted to reallocate these funds in what could be categorized as the Republican-controlled legislature playing politics with the comptroller's office, despite the fact that Auerbach was handily reelected by the voters of Ulster County.

And, given the track record of spending disasters in Ulster County, it would appear to be prudent to ensure that the auditors in Auerbach's office have the tools they need in order to do the job correctly.

But Legislators Walter Frey (R-Saugerties) and Kevin Roberts (R-Wallkill) see things differently. They apparently feel that eliminating this money from the comptroller's contingency fund makes good political and economic sense.

"If the man's not spending his money, then why give it to him?" Roberts was quoted as saying in regard to the fact that Auerbach used only a small portion of this contingency fund.

"Here I am being penalized for being a good steward," Auerbach responded.

But it could have been worse. Frey and Roberts originally called not just for cutting the contingency fund, but for eliminating the position of deputy comptroller.

The voters of Ulster County, therefore, will have to be content with half a loaf.

This has led Auerbach to suggest that the budget for the comptroller's office be established by an independent commission. This is an idea that is worthy of careful consideration. What point is there in having an independent comptroller who is answerable to the electorate, if his or her office can have its budget gutted based upon the political whim of whoever happens to be in charge? Remember, control of the county legislature has changed hands several times in recent years, so this issue is something that eventually will affect legislators on both sides of the aisle.

As for Auerbach's lack of spending (some would surely note the irony of having a member of the GOP criticize the comptroller's fiscal restraint), the past year's contingency ran a surplus because the need for such spending was "unusually low."

But there are several major issues looming, on which the comptroller's office will need to keep a very close eye. The recent turmoil at the Ulster County Resource Recovery Agency (UCRRA) is but one issue that the comptroller's office will be looking at. With questions being asked regarding the financial management at the agency, the comptroller will need all the resources he can muster. And, in the coming years, the effort to replace the decaying Golden Hill Health Care Center will require careful oversight.

Auerbach, himself, is not immune from criticism. Residents of Ellenville certainly have a bone or two to pick with him. But this is beside the point. Love him or hate him, Auerbach will be our comptroller for the next three years. And, given the track record of spending boondoggles in Ulster County, it would seem prudent to ensure that the county's fiscal cop can do his job properly.

(Visit the Shawangunk Journal Website at

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Ulster comptroller says county should take multi-year approach to financial management

KINGSTON – The way the Ulster County budget is formulated is based on a one year financial plan and County Comptroller Elliott Auerbach said it should be based on “a longer-term context.”

The budget process needs to be modernized, he said, and with that in mind, he commissioned a report, “A Better Budget for Ulster County." The document was prepared by the SUNY New Paltz Center for Research, Regional Education and Outreach.

The current budget format is “traditional,” and that doesn’t cut it anymore, said Auerbach.

“In today’s world with money being the way it is and mandates being the way they are, the single year line item budget does just not do the job that we would want it to do financially,” he said Monday.

The report illustrates the value of using the budget document and process not only to forecast the financial future, but also as a policy document, operations and management tool, and a communications device, said Auerbach.

(Copyright © 2010 Mid-Hudson News Network, a division of Statewide News Network, Inc)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


Ulster comptroller questions overtime in county departments

(Copyright © 2010 Mid-Hudson News Network, a division of Statewide News Network, Inc)

KINGSTON – Overtime in the last three years exceeded the amount budgeted by an average of 12.5 percent, according to a report by Ulster County Comptroller Elliott Auerbach.

Auerbach reviewed the Golden Hill Health Care Center, county Health Department, Ulster County Area Transit, the Department of Information Services and the Sheriff’s Corrections Division.

Based on his study, the comptroller said policies in the departments need to be tightened up.

“There is also the issue of whether we use overtime as a tool as opposed to hiring more full-time people, especially in areas that there is a critical need look at the jail, looking at UCAT, looking at Golden Hill Health Care Center,” he said. “It’s the kind of thing where you need to have somebody there; are you better off working somebody from an overtime standpoint than filling a position.”

That will be a decision to be made by the county legislature and county executive, Auerbach said.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


Auerbach provides different look at Ulster budget
(Copyright © 2010 Mid-Hudson News Network, a division of Statewide News Network, Inc)

KINGSTON – Ulster County Comptroller Elliott Auerbach has released a summary of the 2011 tentative budget that provides an overview of the budget data in a historical context.

“Concerned citizens and good government organizations want to understand budget data in a way that makes sense for them so they can question and comment on the budget,” said Auerbach. “This budget summary provides an additional framework for understanding the data in the 2011 tentative budget.”

The comptroller’s presentation offers the tentative budget data in the context of actual expenditures and revenues for the years 2006 – 2009.

It also looks at:

* The budget totals for the entire budget and for each fund within the budget including a brief description of each fund.
* The “Budget to Budget Variance” column compares this year’s budget to its previous year counterpart. This is in place to show how a budget can shrink or grow from year to year.
* The “Budget to Actual Variance” column is included to illustrate actual spending and income compared to budgeted spending and income.

“Governmental budgets are something that people generally love to hate,” said Auerbach, “but each of us has a vested interest in how the county spends our money. I encourage county taxpayers to participate in the budget hearings.”

A list of the public hearings to be held by the legislature is included on the report.

A full copy of the report can be found at

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Ulster County Charter Adoption Turns 4

On November 7, 2006 the voters of Ulster County transformed government by adopting a charter that fostered transparency and accountability.

Lines were quickly drawn with both sides voicing strong opinions for and against the change.

Here's a FREEMAN look back at what they said. You tell me if it's working.

By Katie Young

THE PROPOSED Ulster County charter is pushing its way to the forefront of Tuesday's local election scene as more and more "Vote Yes" and "Vote No" signs pop up near traffic lights and on front yards.

Ulster County would be led by an elected full-time executive rather than a part-time Legislature chairman if the charter is approved. The change would take effect in 2009.

The executive would have the authority to appoint and supervise the heads of each of the county's departments, and they would serve at the pleasure of the executive. The executive also would be the point person responsible for the county's entire budget.

Also under the charter, the county's current appointed administrator and elected treasurer would be replaced by an appointed commissioner of finance and an elected comptroller. The Legislature, in turn, would relinquish most of its administrative duties and become a policy-making body, though it would be charged with approving the executive's appointments and expenditures.

Legislators voted 27-1 in August to put the charter proposal on the ballot, but the public's opinions are far more varied.

The county Chamber of Commerce, the Committee for Good Government and Pathway to Progress have filed financial statements with the Board of Elections that state support for the charter, while the Coalition Against the Charter filed a disclosure statement opposing the document.

Kevin Roberts, a member of the Coalition Against the Charter and chairman of the county's Resource Recovery Agency, said he opposes the charter because of the political ramifications of its powerful county executive and because of the unknown financial impact.

"You're going to get a county executive elected, (and) one of his responsibilities is to get re-elected, and there (will) be a lot of outside influences trying to bring big money into it to influence the process," Roberts said.

Emily Johnson, a longtime member of the League of Women Voters, said the league supports the charter because it allows citizens to hold the maximum amount of possible control over their county government.

William West, a Republican who formerly chaired the county Legislature and now is a member of the Coalition Against the Charter, is proposing a county manager instead of an executive.

"I don't think anybody disagrees with the fact that we have to move forward with a change. I just think the county executive that's proposed is not the best one," West said. "We're urging people to come out and vote 'no' and give us some time to compose a document that would give the county a good-government charter as opposed to the political charter being proposed at this time."

"I think the decision process with a manager will be just as muddled as it is today," said Everton Henriques, a member of the county's now-disbanded Charter Commission. He said the county executive will be accountable to the people and must perform well in order to be re-elected.

The Legislature chairman is elected only by residents of his district and then is chosen for the leadership post by fellow lawmakers.

Legislature Minority Leader Glenn Noonan said it's difficult to gauge whether a county executive or county manager would be preferable.

"(With an) executive, you're getting an elected official with a vested interest in the county. It doesn't mean they have the know-how," said Noonan, R-Gardiner. "Whereas with a manager, you have someone with the know-how, with qualifications, but probably not a vested member of the community."

"What set me off was the fact that there was a refusal to have a debate about the cost (of the charter's mandates), because it's not hard to come up with the information," said James Quigley, treasurer for the Coalition Against the Charter, which put up 750 "Vote No - No to New Taxes" signs across the county.

Joan Lawrence-Bauer, chairwoman of the Chamber of Commerce's board of directors, disagrees with the coalition.

"We believe it is absolutely false to say taxes will go up if the charter is passed," Lawrence-Bauer said. "We believe it will stem the tide of businesses that are fleeing from the county and encourage new businesses to come in."

"The only thing you can deal with with the cost is a guesstimate of what you'd pay for an executive and what it might cost for support help," said John Dwyer, another member of the former Charter Commission and a former Democratic legislator. "I think the savings will far outweigh the cost without a doubt."

Gerald Benjamin, chairman of the former Charter Commission, which spent two years researching and crafting the first draft of the document, said the state comptroller's office shows Ulster spent $142.32 per capita from 1993-2004 compared to an average of $119.89 in the chartered counties of Oneida, Rensselaer, Chemung, Orange, Dutchess, Broome, Putnam and Chautaugua.

Benjamin, a Republican, also is a former chairman of the Ulster County Legislature.

West argues that counties with managers save even more money. He cites Saratoga and Schenectady counties, which, according to the comptroller's office, spend an average of $127 per capita from 1993-2004 compared to $173 in the similarly sized Dutchess and Orange counties, which both have charters.

West and New Paltz Supervisor Toni Hokanson, a Democrat, warn of the charter resulting in a political machine and wish voters had more time to digest the 73-page document.

Bonnie Hewitt, chairwoman of the Ulster County Conservative Party, which has about 2,400 members, opposes the charter on grounds that it will create another layer of government.

"We do not feel that the people of Ulster County can afford to pay any more taxes for more levels of bureaucracy," Hewitt said.

GARY Bischoff, chairman of the county Legislature's Efficiency, Reform and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee, which revised the charter draft before presenting it to the Legislature, said the charter will not another layer of government.

"It is a dual role between the executive and the Legislature working in conjunction, each with the ability to overrule the other at the same level," said Bischoff, D-Saugerties. "A single elected county executive would have much greater clout in Albany as a voice for Ulster County, and that strong voice would also help with economic development and recruiting companies."

The charter proposal will appear on Tuesday's ballot as Proposition 1. If it is approved, the first county executive would be elected in November 2008 and take office on Jan. 1, 2009.

For the charter to be approved, a majority of voters both countywide and in the city of Kingston must vote yes.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Lodging group cheers comptroller report on bed tax -

Lodging group cheers comptroller report on bed tax -
Auerbach tells hotel operators there is no need to increase bed tax

KINGSTON – The Ulster County Lodging Coalition was relieved to hear of Ulster County Comptroller Elliott Auerbach’s recently released findings regarding certain discrepancies in the amount of money collected through the county’s hotel/motel occupancy tax which he shared with them at a Tuesday evening meeting in Kingston.

“There is room for improvement in the management and administration of the bed tax program and as a result there has been revenue left on the table,” Auerbach said.

The actual dollar amount of revenue left uncollected is still under debate, but Auerbach supported retaining the current two percent tax, not increasing it, saying that those in charge of administrating it need to become “better stewards of what is already in place.”

Ulster County Lodging Coalition Chairwoman and General Manager of Mohonk Mountain House, Jackie Appeldorn, said that the Lodging Coalition was relieved by Auerbach’s findings because they further support his recommendation of a zero percent increase to the current bed tax.

“Going into the next election, and because of the economic situation, we have feared that the bed tax might be an easy target. So when his report came out and said that he was not recommending an increase and he thought there was enough money there; that was reassuring.”

Appeldorn said that ideally the Coalition would like to see the bed tax repealed, but at this point they have learned to live with it at two percent and the last thing they would like to see is an increase.
(Copyright © 2010 Mid-Hudson News Network, a division of Statewide News Network, Inc)

Monday, September 27, 2010


Auerbach Seeks Monies That Could Offset Property Taxes

KINGSTON, NY (September 27, 2010)… Ulster County has a modest hotel-motel occupancy tax and Comptroller Elliott Auerbach wants to ensure that it stays that way. Ulster’s Finance Department currently collects a 2% “bed tax” as compared to neighboring counties who have tax rates of four (4 ) and five (5) percent and Auerbach wants to keep it at that level so that Ulster County resorts remain competitive.

What the Comptroller has issue with are the dozens of cases of unreported, under-reported, delinquent and uncollected taxes from hotels, motels, beds and breakfasts, inns and vacation homes that have not met their obligations. Earlier this year, David OHalloran, chairman of the county’s lodging coalition estimated that “there are some places that do not collect the tax like they’re supposed to.” He estimated that “30-40 hotels and probably 100 percent of vacation home rentals” don’t pay.

Auerbach agreed when he pointed out that according to a 2009 study by Tourism Economics, visitors in Ulster County spend $167 million on lodging in 2009. “By my calculation two percent of that $167 million is $3.3 million in revenue yet the County’s Annual Financial Reports for 2008 and 2009 indicate revenues of $1,025,522.00 and $964,038.00 respectively.

“Our Revenue Trends report released in July 2010 raises the bar on the importance of focusing on revenues,” said Comptroller Auerbach, “we are in no position to be leaving this money on the table. We conducted a search of hotel/motel properties in the County and found ninety (90) not on the County’s master list.”

“Within the test group of 23,” said Auerbach, “we found that 96 opportunities to generate revenue were missed.” The review found a pattern of failures to send late notices, level penalties, or charge interest to operators who did not file, did not file timely, and did not file complete returns.

“There are issues of equity as well,” said the Comptroller, “we have operators who are diligently collecting and paying the tax and it is not fair that others should skate by and either avoid the tax altogether or just file returns whenever they want.”

One of the report’s recommendations is for the Department of Finance to coordinate with the Health Department on identifying properties that need to be brought current and into compliance with the law.

The Comptroller said that the next step for his office will be to audit tax returns filed by operators.

Thursday, September 23, 2010


Ulster Comptroller Releases First On- Line Independent Financial Audit

KINGSTON, NY (September 23, 2010)… Ulster County Comptroller Elliott Auerbach announced that the 2009 audit of Ulster County’s books and records is complete and, for the first time, is available for immediate public inspection at the Ulster County Comptroller’s website.

“Financial audits are done to protect the public, not government,” said Auerbach, “so it is important the public have ready access to the audit.”

Members of the public rely on audits to understand the financial well-being of the County, to learn how their tax dollars are spent and to make decisions on how vote, explained Auerbach.

“Annual independent audits by the Comptroller are so important to public integrity that the County Charter mandates the Legislature fund the audit annually,” said Auerbach. The first among the Comptroller’s duties in the Charter is to “examine, audit and verify all books, records and accounts kept by the various administrative units, offices and officials paid from County funds…”

“I am pleased to report that the audit found that in all material respects the County’s financial statements are fairly presented,” said Auerbach.

Financial audits records provide an independent, professional opinion on the reliability of the County’s financial statements. Financial statements represent the financial condition of the County. Financial condition results, in part, from the management of the County’s finances by the Executive and from financial management policies the Legislature may or may not have adopted.

“Another first for Ulster County is that this audit was overseen by the independent Office of the Comptroller,” said Auerbach, “County taxpayers can be assured that no “Enron-style” audits will result during my watch.”

The 2009 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report can be found at www.ulstercountyny/resources/comptroller
# # #

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Doing Things Right vs Doing The Right Thing

Proposals Should Have Been Sought For Professional Services

KINGSTON, NY (September 16, 2010)…The Ulster County Legislature will vote at their September 21, 2010 session to approve a $70,000 contract with O’Conner Davies Muns and Dobbins, LLP (ODMD) negotiated without the benefit of a Request for Proposal (RFP) and in violation of the Legislature’s own Purchasing Policy. “I certainly do not want to impede the Legislature from hiring a consulting firm to assist them in reviewing and analyzing the County Executive’s proposed 2011 budget and provide them with a comprehensive report on its findings. I would have thought, however, that several competitive proposals would serve everyone’s best interest when spending taxpayer dollars,” said Ulster County Comptroller Elliott Auerbach.

“Absent of proposal requests or quotes how can the Legislature ensure that public funds are prudently spent,” Auerbach explained to the Budget and Finance Committee. The Committee has taken the position that the proposed contract with ODMD was negotiated under a provision in the Policy entitled Exceptions to Procurement Laws and Policies.

Auerbach explained that based on the procurement policy adopted by the Legislature in compliance with NYS General Municipal Law 104-b, the consulting services to be provided by ODMD: (1) constitute a professional service, (2) which is not subject to negotiation by the Director of Purchasing, and (3) requires the County undergo a Request for Proposals (RFP) process in order to select an appropriate contractor. “Despite instruction by the Purchasing Office of the requirement to procure the service through the RFP process, it was not,” said Auerbach.

“My position is that contracts for professional service must be awarded in full compliance with the County’s Procurement Policy and Guidelines. Given the state of the economy, this is an exception I will make solely in deference to the potential harm to County residents if the Legislature does not have the professional guidance it seeks in evaluating and enacting a County Budget for 2011,” said Auerbach.

In response to the Comptroller’s findings, both the Attorney for the Legislature and the County Attorney’s Office are of the opinion that the Comptroller has no standing with regard to the approval of the contract.

“Not so,” said the Comptroller. “Both the County Charter and Administrative Code impart clear authority and obligation to assure that claims or charges against the County, no matter the form, are lawful. I have made it clear,” said Auerbach, “that my interest in this matter is to protect the use of public funds and I will fulfill that duty without hesitation.”

The firm, O’Connor Davies Munns & Dobbins, LLP is a large consulting and accounting firm with offices in Connecticut, New York and New Jersey.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Ulster comptroller secures compliance with Social Services contract agency

KINGSTON – Ulster County Social Services contract agency Youth Advocate Programs, Inc. has a $500,000 contract with the county, but wasn’t submitting claims in compliance with their agreement and was sending bills, and being paid, for more than their monthly maximum allowance.

County Comptroller Elliott Auerbach’s office caught the lack of accountability with the agency that provides preventative service to children. He informed officials of the non-profit, who agreed to provide all of the appropriate documentation to be paid monthly.

“This is a victory all around,” said Auerbach. “Bills to DSS will include detail necessary for them to determine its accuracy and taxpayers can be assured they are only paying for services rendered and consistent with the contract.”

In his 2011 budget request, Auerbach is seeking two staff from the DSS finance office be assigned to his office. “In this way we can keep those staff at DSS, but have them trained by and reporting to me in compliance with charter requirements.”
( Weekend
September 4-5, 2010

Copyright © 2010 Mid-Hudson News Network, a division of Statewide News Network, Inc)

Monday, August 30, 2010


Auerbach Trashes Lack of Legislative Oversight

KINGSTON, NY (August 30, 2010)… Ulster County Comptroller Elliott Auerbach released the first of several reports on the Ulster County Resource Recovery Agency (UCRRA) claiming that the “Ulster County Legislature has practiced a laissez faire approach and this hands-off governance style has cost the taxpayers nearly $32 million with no end in sight.” This report analyzes the fees paid to the agency by Ulster County. These fees are known as Net Service Fees (NSF) and they are paid as a result of a 1992 Agreement between the County and the UCRRA.

“In talking with some county legislators about the UCRRA, I noticed a lot of hand-wringing and shoulder-shrugging followed by admissions that ‘we have no choice’,” said Auerbach, “so I took a look and pulled back the curtain.”

What Auerbach found is that since 1992 the County has had significant opportunity to closely monitor the finances of the UCRRA and the fees paid to it.

• Since 1998 Ulster County has covered between 10% and 50% of UCRRA’s annual operating expenses, totaling nearly $32 million.

• The County has not employed its contractual powers to monitor and control factors contributing to the NSF.

• The County has not practiced due diligence to ensure the UCRRA complies with its contractual obligations, including repayment of NSFs.

• Under the status quo, the UCRRA will not be able to meet its obligations in the future without continued, annual NSF from the County.

“The contract between the UCRRA and the County empowers the County Legislature to request modifications to the UCRRA budget,” said Auerbach, “yet we found no such requests in the official records of the County or the UCRRA.”

The contract also requires the UCRRA to submit monthly written reports to the Legislature which must, at a minimum, include: estimated and projected Net Service Fees and the number of gross tons of Solid Waste or Regulated Recyclable Materials delivered to the system, processed and sold, and its amount and price, yet the Clerk of the Legislature has no record of ever receiving such reports, according to the Comptroller

“I call upon the Legislature to use its power and authority to protect taxpayers in every way related to the UCRRA,” said Auerbach, “simple due diligence is what is needed and this report provides some guidance on how to begin.”

The report, entitled “Net Service Fees: $32 Million and Counting” can be found at

Thursday, August 26, 2010

What About Wawarsing

The NYC DEP went on a “buying spree” spending $7.8 million to purchase 1323 acres of land in four counties including 74 acres in our own Ulster County.

Nice to see them try and protect their watershed and insure quality drinking water to City residents.

What happened to the leak ravaged folks in Wawarsing and the millions of gallons of “quality drinking water” that is bubbling up in their basements and yards?

Here's the story courtesy of MID-HUDSON NEWS NETWORK

More land acquired by DEP for watershed protection

CATSKILLS – The New York City Department of Environmental Protection is purchasing another 1,323 acres of land in the Catskills for $7.8 million. It’s a continuing part of the DEP’s efforts to protect the watershed and maintain the quality of New York City drinking water.

Twelve parcels were acquired, ranging in size from a half acre to 266 acres; the properties are in Ulster, Greene, Delaware and Westchester counties.

Since the land acquisition program began, the Big Apple has purchased over 111,000 acres of watershed land in the Catskill/Delaware and Croton reservoir systems. Most of the properties will be open for public access, including hunting, hiking and fishing, as well as hay cropping by local businesses.

The newly acquired parcels include five in Delaware County totaling 815 acres; four in Greene County Totaling 430 acres; two in Ulster County totaling 74 acres; and one four-acre parcel in Westchester.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Power Grab

Auerbach claims lawmakers want to “undermine” county charter
August 17, 2010

(Copyright © 2010 Mid-Hudson News Network, a division of Statewide News Network, Inc)

KINGSTON – The Ulster County Legislature wants to shift funds from the county comptroller’s budget for accounting and auditing over to its own budget to cover the annual county audit.

County Comptroller Elliott Auerbach calls it a “power grab.” The proposed transfer of funds is contrary to the intent of the new county charter, which designated the comptroller as the chief auditing officer, he said, Monday.

“We are taking a hard line on this. We are really looking to the legislature to understand the reasoning behind it and hopeful they will remain on our side to allow the financial audit to be an independent one,” he said.

Under the old charter, before there was a comptroller or county executive, the legislature took the lead in the annual county audit.

“The legislature sets policy and appropriates funds, the executive manages and administers funds,” said Auerbach. “The comptroller’s role is independent oversight which is why no management, administrative or appropriating functions were delegated to the office.”

Thursday, July 29, 2010


Comptroller Issues Checks To 177 Rochester Property Owners

KINGSTON, NY (July 27, 2010)… Comptroller Elliott Auerbach completed the final piece of the veterans’ exemption puzzle this week for one hundred seventy-seven (177) Town of Rochester property owners who served in the military. Auerbach authorized refund checks to qualified veterans for overpayment to the County for their 2010 town taxes.

“The increase in the veterans’ exemptions not only prompted these refunds under section 458-a of the Real Property Tax Law, but will continue to be enjoyed by those eligible men and women who are wartime, combat zone or disabled vets,” said Auerbach.
“It’s a small way to show our gratitude to those who have served,” the Comptroller went on to say.

Another way Auerbach will demonstrate that gratitude will be to make arrangements for the veterans to personally pick up their checks at Town of Rochester Town Hall on August 6, 2010. A mailing is going out to the affected veterans on how to obtain their refunds.

Town of Rochester Supervisor Carl Chipman is pleased with the results of his town’s Local Law #1-2008 and grateful that the exemptions have been increased to their maximums. Chipman “encourages all eligible veterans to check with the town’s assessor for taxable status applications and filing dates.”

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


Auerbach Releases Revenue Research Report

KINGSTON, NY (July 6, 2010)… Ulster County Comptroller Elliott Auerbach today released a report on county revenue trends that will serve as a financial decision making tool for both the county executive and legislature as they begin the budget process for 2011.

“As our economy continues to crawl out of recession government needs to pay as much attention to income as it pays to expenses,” said Auerbach, “and the better we focus on and plan for our revenue stream, the better able we are to control property taxes.”

Noting that Ulster County has recently begun planning for the 2011 budget, Auerbach said that he timed the report to aid in that process. “With a deeper understanding of our successes and failures in projecting revenues we can improve our budgeting in the future,” said Auerbach.

Auerbach commissioned The Center for Research, Regional Education and Outreach (CRREO) to prepare Ulster County Revenue Trends 2002 to 2009. The report examines trends in the County’s primary revenue from sales and property taxes and also considers their impact on the unassigned fund balance.

According to the analysis in the report, Ulster County has had a greater likelihood of underestimating revenues over the past decade. “When we under estimate revenue,” said Auerbach, “we bring in more revenue than we spend and that builds a fund balance.” During the study period the county underestimated sales tax revenue five times and overestimated three times. The report gives considerable attention to fund balances.

CRREO director Jerry Benjamin commended the County as careful, systematic and informed by experience in predicting sales tax revenue. “A review of sales tax revenue patterns, however argues for use of a methodology linked not only to historic patterns but also to current regional economic factors,” said Benjamin.

Revenue forecasting is one of the most complex topics in public finance. For this research, CRREO modeled Ulster County’s sales tax using a linear model, a Logarithmic model and a Polynomial model to demonstrate the predictive value of modeling.

Selected conclusions in the report include:

• shortfalls in collection of the property tax, attributed to current economic conditions, suggest a need for caution and a reserve for uncollected taxes at the level required by the County charter.

• sales tax revenue drop-off in Ulster County was 7.5%, the 14th worst in New York State

• there is a widening shortfall of actual money received against that expected in revised budgets

• there is a greater reliance on the property tax with the County seeking to raise 151% more in 2010 than it did in 2002 from the property tax

The report makes five recommendations including multi-year revenue planning, establishment of a policy on fund balance and budgeting a reserve for uncollected taxes in accordance with Charter mandate.

“We need a new approach to budgeting,” said Auerbach, “we need our planning to better anticipate the future.” Auerbach further recommends that Ulster County undertake long-term financial planning and multi-year budgeting. “Through these processes we can also begin to establish financial performance measures to evaluate our progress,” said Auerbach. (

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

$77K to Ellenville

ELLENVILLE, NY (July 2, 2010)… Ulster County Comptroller Elliott Auerbach delivered a property tax check to Ellenville Village Manager Mary Sheeley for $77,170.58 collected from New York State which represents 2010-2011 village taxes on the 3727 acres known as SAM’S POINT

Friday, June 25, 2010

Life's Leaks


I spent last evening with several dozen residents who have been plagued by the continual leaking NYC tunnel that runs near their homes. My heart goes out to all of them who are faced dealing with “life’s leaks” on top of raising families, running households and making a living.

Here are my thoughts in a “nutshell:

It is nice that the DEP Commissioner finally and publicly admitted the culpability of his agency but that still does not resolve the problems that the home owners are faced with. I feel the frustration of those folks in Wawarsing who return home to deal daily with flooded homes, mold infested basements and swamped properties. Let's put their needs first and address the tunnel repairs once we have helped the homeowners.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A Clean and Green Economic Engine

GARDINER – Minnewaska State Park Preserve, Mohonk Preserve and Sam’s Point Preserve contribute $12.3 million to the local economy, according to a study released Tuesday.

Gunks attractions boost area economy by over $12 million annually
Business Opportunities Management Consulting of Rensselaer conducted the study for the three attractions and found they have over 392,000 visitors among them who spend over $13 million annually and support 350 local jobs.

Annual local sales taxes from the three amount to $459,000.

The three GUNKS attractions are but a small portion of Ulster County’s tourism economic generator, said County Executive Michael Hein.

“We’re talking about a $474 million operation; it’s the largest part of Ulster County’s economy,” he said. “State parks and these types of operations are critical to drawing people to Ulster County.”

County Comptroller Elliott Auerbach said the Shawangunk Ridge park/preserves are “great examples of ‘clean and green’ contributors to the economy.”

(Copyright © 2010 Mid-Hudson News Network, a division of Statewide News Network, Inc)

Monday, June 21, 2010


On Monday June 21, 2010 members of the Ulster County Office of the Comptroller became a PROUD PURPLE PARTNER as the Hudson Valley Alzheimer's Association launched their BIG PURPLE campaign in an effort to assist families that are struggling with Alzheimer's disease.
To find out more log onto


Our RECOGNIZING SUCCESS recipients at the Ulster County Chamber of Commerce breakfast.
Nine high school students who are making a difference.
From left to right:
Erica Martin-Wallkill
Nissa Gustafson-Onteora
Alex Rose Schemitsch-Rondout Valley
Mairead Fogarty-New Paltz
Justine Marsh-Marlboro
Keri Robinson-Highland
Ana Flores-Ellenville
Comptroller Elliott Auerbach
(Missing-Chelsea Defino-Saugerties and Shaina Huleatt-Kingston)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

A.G. Investigation at Central Auto


ALBANY, NY (June 16, 2010) - Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the arrest of an Ulster County employee for stealing auto parts meant for government-owned vehicles and filing false work orders to hide the theft.

According to the complaint, Anthony Gallo, 44, of Saugerties, employed by Ulster County Central Auto garage as a Fleet Maintenance Facilitator, placed an order for auto parts but allegedly stole and installed them on a truck that he personally owned. Gallo then filed a false work order claiming he performed repairs on the County truck to hide the theft. Central Auto is a County garage where government-owned vehicles are repaired and maintained.

Gallo was charged with Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree and Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree, felonies that each carry a maximum sentence of 1 1/3 to 4 years in prison, as well as Official Misconduct, a misdemeanor, which carries a maximum sentence of one year in jail. Gallo was arraigned before Ulster Town Justice Susan Kesick and released on his own recognizance pending a court appearance on July 21, 2010.

"This individual is accused of breaching public trust and using his position to rip off taxpayers for his own personal gain,” said Attorney General Cuomo. “My office remains committed to rooting out government corruption and we will vigorously prosecute those who violate the public trust.”

Additionally, the criminal complaint alleges that in November of 2009, Gallo replaced six tires on his truck with County tires. Gallo worked as a mechanic and an administrative supervisor, making and keeping business records including invoices and vouchers, at Central Auto from November 2006 to December 2009. Central Auto, located at 125 Maxwell Lane, Kingston, is responsible for repairing and maintaining government-owned vehicles.

Attorney General Cuomo thanked Ulster County Executive Mike Hein and County Comptroller Elliott Auerbach, the New York State Police and the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles for their assistance in the investigation.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General YuJin Hong and Assistant Attorney General in Charge of the Poughkeepsie Regional Office Vincent Bradley under the supervision of Special Deputy Attorney General for Public Integrity Ellen Biben.

The charges against Gallo are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

$437 Million of Public Debt


KINGSTON, NY (June 15, 2010)… In a continuing effort to mine, audit and review data valuable to public policy decision making, Ulster County Comptroller Elliott Auerbach released a BY THE NUMBERS report on the Total Public Debt Outstanding in Ulster County.

“One the most revealing aspects of this data,” said the Comptroller, “was not so much the total dollar amount but the fact there are 75 taxing jurisdictions in Ulster County that contribute to that total debt amount.” The 75 municipal taxing districts within Ulster County, include:

• 41 Fire Districts
• 10 School Districts
• 19 Towns
• 3 Villages
• 1 City
• 1 County

These 75 districts have a combined total debt outstanding (debt remaining to be paid over time) of $437,201,643.

“We in government have a special obligation not only to monitor how much public money is spent and for what purposes, but to understand the extent to which our taxing districts are layered,” explained Auerbach. “When we understand the layering we can begin to explore opportunities for more inclusive and integrative processes for establishing debt policy at the community level,” said Auerbach.

The report relies on data submitted by governmental entities which are required to file annual financial statements with the NYS Office of the State Comptroller.

The Ulster County Charter crafted the Office of the Comptroller to serve as an independent analyst of county functions and finances. In this role, the Comptroller has identified the importance of sharing data and information as a means to spur creative thinking. BY THE NUMBERS reports provide data from which the user can draw conclusions or pose valuable public policy questions

(The complete report appears at

Sunday, June 13, 2010


Comptroller Recognizes Successes From Nine High Schools

KINGSTON, NY (June 14, 2010)… Ulster County Comptroller Elliott Auerbach is pleased to announce the recipients of his 2010 Recognizing Success Program.

Recognizing Success is an initiative that acknowledges the exceptional student who has stepped forward to “make a difference” in school or in the community.

“These are exceptional young adults who changed lives through their efforts,” said Auerbach, “and I feel it is important to recognize their initiative and ingenuity in pursuit of a public purpose goal.”

The following students are recognized:


Ellenville- Ana Flores
Highland- Keri Robinson
Kingston- Shaina Huleatt
Marlboro- Justine Marsh
New Paltz- Mairead Fogarty
Onteora- Nissa Gustafson
Rondout Valley- Alex Rose Schemitsch
Saugerties- Chelsea Defino
Wallkill- Erica Martin

These young people were nominated by their school principal or guidance counselor. Each of them is remarkable and has worked to “make a difference” in a variety of ways, for example:

Serving as a ‘Reading Buddy’ helping students with disabilities to develop their reading skills

Building and repairing homes for impoverished families in Kentucky;

Teaching English and how to cook using solar coolers in Nepal;

Implementing a mentoring program between freshman students and upper class students

24 Hour Fast for Hunger, American Cancer Society “Relay for Life”

Working with Habitat for Humanity, programs for children, peer tutoring, organizing a clothes drive

Volunteering to help students in and outside school

President of the Interact Club

Fundraising for leukemia/lymphoma and breast cancer research

“The nominations we received spoke beautifully about these young people,” said Auerbach. “It gives us needed hope for the future to know that these students understand leadership and are willing to practice it.”

The Comptroller will be recognizing the students at the Ulster County Chamber of Commerce breakfast on June 17, 2010. Each student also received an award at their school awards ceremonies.

Ulster County Comptroller Elliott Auerbach’s Recognizing Success program is designed to bring well-deserved notice and accolade to students whose efforts achieved a valued public purpose and, in so doing, demonstrated leadership among peers.

Friday, June 4, 2010


UC Comptroller Calls For Changes to NYS Medicaid Law

By Paula Sirc (From the pages of the SHAWANGUNK JOURNAL 06.03.10)

KINGSTON – Ulster County Comptroller Elliott Auerbach believes the county should be allowed to audit Medicaid providers. Auerbach, the self-proclaimed "people's watch-dog," said his office has joined with other county comptrollers across the state in calling for a revision of the law that currently restricts their offices from conducting a full-scale audit of the program.

Auerbach said the NYS Department of Health's (DOH) directive does not grant local authorities the power "to conduct traditional audits, administer recovery of overpayments, or use provider sanctions."

Since the county receives Medicaid claims directly from local providers and is financially responsible for almost 25 percent of each claim, Auerbach believes it should play a larger role in the audit process.

New York's DOH grants comptrollers limited powers to audit. In 2008, some $1,300 of Ulster County's Department of Social Services (DSS) client monies had been reported stolen from its Medicaid spend-down program. In 2009, after taking office as Ulster County's first comptroller, Auerbach initiated an audit of the county program.

The Medicaid spend-down program allows certain people to qualify for Medicaid — even if their income is higher than allowed under the eligibility criteria — by paying a portion of money out of pocket each month to the department. The amount of money collected from those clients can range between $25 and $500 a month, Auerbach said.

The comptroller's audit revealed an additional loss of $3,424 in client monies, procedural lapses in cash management, and a lack of internal controls.

Until the law that prohibits his office from a full audit of the program is repealed, Auerbach said he will use his resources "to audit what I can, where I can."

The comptroller claims that Ulster County's DSS has made improvements in its accounting practices since the audit. "They've made some inroads, however, there still are some blind spots that we are not totally comfortable with and it truly has to do with internal controls," he said.

Copyright © 2010, Electric Valley Media LLC
All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


The First 500 Days of the Office of Ulster County Comptroller

KINGSTON, NY (June 1, 2010)… January 1, 2009 not only ushered in a new form of government in Ulster County, it also marked the beginning of Comptroller Elliott Auerbach’s effort to create an independent agency of the people serving to protect the public’s interest.

“May 16th marked the 500th day of our new form of government here in Ulster County,” said the county’s first comptroller. It is a milestone for responsive and responsible government and we wanted to document the culture of change and use this indicator to look back, catalog our successes and track our thresholds” explained Auerbach.

500 Days of Accountability” is a comprehensive report of initiatives and outcomes the Comptroller has compiled that signifies the efforts he and his staff have undertaken to discover and report on the economy, efficiency and effectiveness with which County government is run.

“We began our first few months authoring two reports on internal control practices within the County. That analysis identified several deficiencies, including a flawed financial management and reporting system. In addition, it brought to the surface the need to protect County staff with whistleblower protections, which the legislature subsequently acted upon” said Auerbach.

“We reviewed and improved the claims auditing function by which my staff serves as the last line of defense in assuring only valid, authorized claims are paid,” said Auerbach, “as a result I re-instated the use of claimant certifications to create an additional layer of accountability.”

The “500 Days” report lists a range of issued audits and reports from small cash counts to the massive review of the Ulster County Department of Health. “Our analysis of the Department of Health identified broad opportunities for improved processes and controls,” said Auerbach, “it also swept out from under the carpet the long-known need for control over nepotism – family hiring and working for family.” That report revealed how seriously dysfunctional government can become when a husband/wife team had unfettered control within the public domain.

“In this position it pays to remain dexterous,” said Auerbach, “like cautioning a legislative committee not to allocate funds of tens of thousands of dollars for a convicted killer’s medical bills without a full audit of the charges.”

As a result of creating a Comptroller’s Blog, Auerbach has had real-time communication with taxpayers. His fraud prevention workshop for not-for-profit organizations was well received and Auerbach said his Comptroller’s Advisory Committee has challenged him to ask new and different questions of County operations.

“Because we pull back the curtain to let the light shine on County government,” said Auerbach, “I established heightened ethics standards for my staff. It is our job to reveal the facts, not spin them.”

Elliott Auerbach is the first elected Comptroller in Ulster County. 500 Days of Accountability can be found on the Comptroller’s website at

Monday, May 17, 2010

City of Kingston Overbilled $64k

May 17, 2010...The City of Kingston's SAFETY NET 2009 is currently being re-examined by auditors in my office and we are confirming that 91 of the over 4200 charges were inaccurate. While the percentage is small in comparison, the errors translate into an over $64,000 refund due to the City and being re-billed to several neighboring communities.

This process entailed nearly six weeks of information gathering and are intention is to now focus on 2008 charges.

Friday, May 7, 2010


Ulster County DSS makes some improvements in its financial accountability, says Auerbach

KINGSTON – The Ulster County Department of Social Services has made some improvements in its accounting practice since County Comptroller Elliott Auerbach first looked into them earlier.

Missing funds reported to the County Sheriff’s Office before the comptroller’s office kicked in under the new charter, resulted in a comptroller’s audit of the Social Services Medicaid spend-down program in August 2009. Concerns regarding cash management and internal controls were found.

The follow up audit shows some improvement, Auerbach said.

“They have made some inroads, however, there still are some blind spots that we are not totally comfortable with and it truly has to do with internal controls,” he said.

Noting that county comptrollers are prohibited in New York State from auditing Medicaid providers, Auerbach said until that is lifted, he will use his resources “to audit what I can where I can.”

(Copyright © 2010 Mid-Hudson News Network, a division of Statewide News Network, Inc.)

Monday, May 3, 2010

Ulster County has $18M fund balance, down from $24M |

Ulster County has $18M fund balance, down from $24M |

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Annual Ulster County financial report shows 2009 with balanced budget

KINGSTON – Ulster County used $5.7 million from its unreserved-unappropriated general fund balance to balance the 2009 county budget of $259 million.

The county remained within the five percent to 10 percent recommended percentage that the unreserved-unappropriated fund balance should be as part of the total general fund budget. The county’s balance was 6.5 percent.

County Executive Michael Hein said there is a positive message when analyzing the budget.

“In the face of a $7 million reduction in sales tax revenue, by making significant internal budgetary cuts and additional revenues, we created a situation where the taxpayer did not suffer and ultimately we are in better position going forward,” he said.

Hein said, though, that Ulster must still move forward with his 10 point Taxpayer First Initiative to begin closing the projected budget gap for fiscal year 2011.

(Copyright © 2009 Mid-Hudson News Network, a division of Statewide News Network, Inc.)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


In the world of budget deficits, dramatic service reductions and "unacceptable tax increases" it is nice to highlight two positive stories about an economic uptick.

Ulster only local county to see growth in sales-tax revenue
(Reprinted from the

ALBANY — Sales-tax revenue in New York rose 4 percent in the first quarter of the year, with some of the state's largest retail areas showing signs of improvement after a year of declining sales, records show.
But while the state's sales-tax revenue grew by $223 million between January and March and the same period in 2009, the only local county to see an increase was Ulster, which was up 0.53 percent or $118,822.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Quarterly Home Sales Data Very Encouraging

(Reprinted from Ulster County NY Real Estate website)

According to results published by the New York State Association of Realtors, sales of single family homes in Ulster County rose 42.9% in the first quarter of 2010 when compared to the sales data from the first quarter of 2009. Could this be a prelude to a jump in Ulster County homes sales during the peak second quarter period as well?

Friday, April 23, 2010


A great email from Bruce Tuchman of Wells Fargo Advisors


Ulster County loses tens of thousands of dollars in revenue each year when Driver's Licenses and Registration Renewals are mailed to Albany or done on the internet.

Help us keep that revenue in Ulster County.

Mail your renewals directly to:
Ulster County Clerk
PO Box 1800
Kingston, New York 12402

Or stop in to the DMV Office:
Ulster County Office Building
244 Fair Street
Kingston, New York 12401

Or visit the Motor Vehicle Bus at:

Marlboro Town Hall - Monday 10:00 - 3:30 1:00-2:00 (lunch)
Saugerties Town Hall - Tuesday 10:00 - 3:30 1:00-2:00 (lunch)
Wawarsing Town Hall - Wednesday 10:00 - 3:30 1:00 - 2:00 (lunch)
New Paltz Town Hall - Thursday 10:00 -3:30 1:00 - 2:00 (lunch)
Shandaken Town Hall - Friday 10:00 - 3:30 1:00 - 2:00 (lunch)

any questions call:
Nina Postupack
Ulster County Clerk
Ulster County Clerk's Office
(845) 340-3040
(845) 340-3299 Fax

Ulster comptroller pays $245K medical bill for murderer - The Daily Freeman News: Serving the Hudson Valley since 1871(

Ulster comptroller pays $245K medical bill for murderer - The Daily Freeman News: Serving the Hudson Valley since 1871(

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Thursday, April 22, 2010



It was a great way to celebrate EARTH DAY 2010 with Ed Fondiller of TOTAL TENNIS in Saugerties as he cut the ribbon (actually the vine) on the solar panel field. This project helps meet 30% of the facility’s electrical needs and enables them to sell back any excess electricity back to the grid. It was installed by Woodstock, NY company SOLARgeneration.

I was amazed, not only at the project, but at the commitment of Ed and his wife Kate Doran to incorporate energy saving measures to Total Tennis. It also shows you how a public/private partnership and our stimulus money yields huge results.

This project, along with the installation of a solar field and geo-thermal heating system at the Town of Esopus Town Hall show the sustainable commitment in our county.

Here are the numbers (something we like in our office):

468 solar panels (210 watt Sanyo photo-voltaic panels)

Indoor tennis building-1 system-1 meter 31,200 sq feet

10 other buildings-2nd system-2nd meter-30,000 sq feeg

TOTAL COST-$786.240.00

NYSERDA REBATE-$344,840.00

ARRA (Stimulus) Rebate in lieu of tax credit-30%

Yearly Savings to Total Tennis $18,000.00

For more information contact Ed at

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


Today’s Ulster County Public Auction has been completed with nearly fifty (50) properties being redeemed or removed before the auctioneer, George Cole began the sale.
All of the listings were at least three years in arrears, with two of them owing taxes since 1995.

While the numbers are being reviewed, it appears that there was strong interest in a variety of parcels, including vacant, residential and commercial property.

Two such parcels that were subject to stiff competitive bidding were a 2.7 acre piece in the Town of Esopus that had $17, 274.00 in outstanding taxes that went for $82,000.00 and a 7 acre piece in Wawarsing that sold for $110,000.00 and had unpaid taxes of $45,595.12

Over one hundred people registered to bid and the entire event ran smoothly under the Direction of Commissioner of Finance Paul Hewitt, Deputy Commissioner Burt Gulnick Jr. and Public Auction Coordinator Diane Stauble.

Sunday, April 18, 2010



Before the first bang of the gavel at this year’s Ulster County tax lien foreclosure sale, being held on April 21, 2010 at SUNY ULSTER, over 30% of the original 118 properties will have been redeemed, leaving eighty properties, ranging from a driveway to a 39 acre potentially hazardous waste site waiting to be auctioned off. The initial 2010 listing in the County of Ulster Public Auction booklet indicated that the total number of parcels, three or more years behind in their taxes, dropped by 10%, from last year to this year (134 to 118).

The Town of Wawarsing which led the initial list with twenty-six (26) now has twenty (20) properties remaining, followed by the Town of Saugerties with ten (10) and the Town of Ulster with eight (8). Three of the Towns, Woodstock, Hardenburgh and Olive, as well as the Village of Saugerties, will have no properties at this year’s auction.

While the numbers of properties have decreased, the total of unpaid taxes has risen 25% from last year ($1,580,288.92 to $1,980,917.20). The Town of Saugerties tops the list with eleven properties totaling $510,245.21, including one parcel on Quarry Road accounting for $412,594.32. Town of Kingston follows with $212,764.94 attributed to its one and only property on the list located on Woods Road. However, those two properties may have environmental issues that render them unsalable.

Since the publication of the list in early April, thirty-eight (38) parcels have been redeemed for a total of $667,937.37.

“It’s disheartening to see any property subject to a foreclosure sale. The Commissioner of Finance has made a huge effort to work with each and every property owner to help them through these tough times. Several of these properties, contributing to nearly a third of the unpaid taxes, maybe deemed hazardous, and therefore unsalable,” Comptroller Auerbach said.

The complete auction catalog can be found at

Friday, April 9, 2010

Comptroller Urges System Update

By Paula Sirc reporting for the SHAWANGUNK JOURNAL

(Copyright © 2010, Electric Valley Media LLC)

KINGSTON – Ulster County Comptroller Elliot Auerbach last week released his office's quarterly report on the financial condition of the county during the fourth quarter of 2009.

The report is prefaced with complaints regarding the inefficiency of H.T.E., the county's "long-outdated" software system for managing its budget and financial data.

The problem, according to the report, stems from financial management software that "is unable to record and report essential data and information in a consistently reliable, accurate and useful manner," and is not a comment on the "very capable people," who waste "lots of time compensating for a poor system."

Signs of stress in the fiscal condition of the county are determined by the comptroller's office using four indicators, which include over-expended or over-encumbered appropriations, revenue shortfalls, cash flow deficits, and fund balance erosion or depletion.

The comptroller's report indicates that, over the course of 2009, budgeted expenditures increased almost 11 percent, which, when compared to the nearly 8 percent increase in 2008 and the 6 percent increase in 2007, reflects a "steady growth in expenditure increases over [the] budgeted expenditures for the three year period."

For the total budget, the report notes that revenues collected were 128 percent to 137 percent greater than were projected in the adopted budget.

"Due to the highly volatile economy," the comptroller recommended that the county's cash flow reports for all sources, including sales tax, mortgage tax receipts and interest income, be closely monitored. Cash-flow reports forecast short-term cash balances available for both operations and investment.

The Government Finance Officers Association recommends that the general fund unreserved fund balance consist of no less than 5 to 15 percent of regular general fund operating revenues. As such, the report notes that the reserved general fund balances "better meet the criteria than the unreserved general fund balances," but contends that both are "within the parameters." It also notes that there exists "a fair amount of fluctuation in percentage change from year to year" in the general fund balance.

Ulster County's 2010 budget analysis, conducted by the consulting firm of O'Connor, Davies, Munns & Dobbins, notes that the budget dips deeply into the fund balance in an effort to stave off a property tax increase. To balance this year's budget, $12.4 million will be drawn from the general fund balance — $5.4 million more than was used in the 2009 budget.

Auerbach's report recommends the county follow the guidelines proposed by the Government Accounting Standards Board in reporting the fund balance. The guidelines state that the fund report should distinguish "spendable and non-spendable portions," and that the non-spendable portions of fund balance be further divided into four parts — restricted, limited, assigned and unassigned — that correspond with the level of constraint placed on the purposes for which it may be used.

Overall, the comptroller's report urges that the county budget "be prepared in a format that facilitates year-to-year comparison."

(Intended for non-commercial use)

Kingston audit of Safety Net costs will proceed alongside Ulster County’s <span style="color: rgb(255, 0, 0);">(videos)</span> - The Daily Freeman News: Serving the Hudson Valley since 1871(

Kingston audit of Safety Net costs will proceed alongside Ulster County’s (videos) - The Daily Freeman News: Serving the Hudson Valley since 1871(

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Wednesday, April 7, 2010


Comptroller’s Staff Go Out Into the Field to Monitor Payroll Process

KINGSTON, NY (April 7, 2010)… On Friday, April 9, 2010 Ulster County Comptroller Elliott Auerbach and a team of examiners and auditors will initiate what he is calling the “present and accounted for” payroll verification process to ensure that County paychecks are ending up in the hands of the intended employees.

“With nearly two thousand employees and dozens of remote locations this procedure will both verify and validate that the weekly and bi-weekly paychecks are accounted for. As part of the Comptroller’s duty to certify payroll, we needed to ensure that everyone receiving a County paycheck is present and accounted for,” said Auerbach.

The payroll pay-out verification begins with the Highway and Bridges Division of the Department of Public Works (DPW). The procedure involves the Comptroller’s staff distributing paychecks or pay advices to the DPW sub-stations across the county. Employees will be required to show their County identification card and sign for their pay.

“We have enlisted the support of the CSEA leadership and the DPW management team, as well as pre-visiting a number of the sub-stations to meet and talk with members of the crew,” said Auerbach, “they all understand why we need to implement this process and appreciate our efforts to be as accommodating as possible.”

The Comptroller intends to conduct his “present and accounted for” payroll pay-out across all County departments and verify that every individual receiving a salary is indeed a current employee.

“We all have heard the stories of ghost employees,” said Auerbach, “while I don’t expect to find any, my cracker-jack team of “ghost busters” will out one if it exists.”

Most Ulster County employees are paid bi-weekly except in the DPW where staff are paid weekly. Employees receive either a paycheck or a ‘direct deposit’ pay advice statement.

Saturday, March 27, 2010



Three Area Projects Are Commended

Ulster County Comptroller Elliott Auerbach has received notice that three local municipal projects funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) have been commended by the Office of the New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli for following “sound procurement procedures when awarding contracts.”

The City of Kingston, the Village of Ellenville and the County of Ulster are among the eight audited local government projects in the Hudson Valley that “adhered to bidding laws and appropriately awarded their ARRA highway projects to the lowest responsible bidder,” according to Auerbach. “The Office of the State Comptroller report emphasized that the three entities are an example of how competitive bidding not only fosters healthy competition and the lowest possible price, but guards against favoritism, extravagance and fraud,” said Comptroller Auerbach.

The three projects total nearly six million dollars and include the pedestrian waterfront walkway for Kingston ($1,244,494.00), the Beckley Bridge in Ellenville (($992,000.00) and the CR77 bridge over the Rondout for the County ($3,870,733.00).

A copy of the report can be found on Comptroller Auerbach’s website at

Friday, March 19, 2010


Ulster comptroller’s office adds second pair of eyes on county bank accounts

KINGSTON – The Ulster County comptroller’s office has begun performing bank reconciliation reports each month on the county’s 28 bank accounts holding some $64 million.

The county finance commissioner’s office is in charge of those accounts on a day to day basis, but Comptroller Elliott Auerbach said his office provides an independent look at the financial statements.

“What this is going to do is us a bird’s eye if there is any fraud, and malfeasance, any questionable deposits and withdrawals or handling of money,” he said. “It’s a second set of eyes, so to speak, so at the end of the month, the reconciliation process serves to really protect the taxpayers of Ulster County.”

To this point, Auerbach said his office has found no problems with the county’s bank accounts.
(Copyright © 2009 Mid-Hudson News Network, a division of Statewide News Network, Inc)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

SHAMROCK RUN 03.14.2010

The Kingston News Blog: Kingston's 2010 St Patrick's Day Parade ( Photos/videos )
Ulster County Comptroller Elliott Auerbach. "TEAM AUERBACH"
Photos/videos by Clark Richters check it out at

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


Closing historic sites in Ulster would cost the county millions, says county comptroller

KINGSTON – Should the Senate House, Minnewaska State Park and the Walkway Over the Hudson close completely or partially as proposed in the state plans to help curb the state deficit, it would cost Ulster County tens of thousands of dollars.

County comptroller Elliott Auerbach ran the numbers and said it would cost the county over $250,000 in sales tax and tens of thousands of dollars in hotel and motel occupancy tax.

“I have to believe that the governor is, as someone said, looking for change under the sofa cushion in an attempt to keep New York State afloat,” said Auerbach. “What he fails to take into consideration is the huge financial blow and larger economic impact these closures will have on Ulster.”

Aside from the economic impact on the county, 42 fulltime and seasonal employees would get the axe.

Auerbach suggested that instead of shutting down the facilities, that Senate and Assembly members trim back 10 percent of their member items to keep the park venues fully operational. He also suggested the state seek corporate underwriters to fund the historic venues and parks instead of shutting them down.
(Copyright © 2009 Mid-Hudson News Network, a division of Statewide News Network, Inc)