The New York State Comptoller's office issued a report Tuesday assessing the deterioration of Monroe County, N.Y.'s financial condition and calling for a "corrective action plan" for the county's budget problems.
In a move Monroe officials have termed coincidental, the county made the report public the same day it announced it would switch the competitive sale of about $155 million in bond anticipation notes and revenue anticipation notes to a negotiated sale.
The state comptroller's report, which details the fiscal affairs of Monroe County from Jan. 1, 1990, through Dec. 31, 1991, is part of the routine auditing process of state municipalities conducted by the state comptroller's Division of Municipal Affairs.
The only difference in this year's report is the inclusion of the 1991 fiscal year. Ordinarily, the comptroller's office would have audited the county for a one-year period, in this case the 1990 fiscal year, beginning January 1.
But with the county's worsening fiscal condition during preparation of the audit, the comptroller's office decided to include the 1991 fiscal year in its report, said Cynthia Munk, assistant press secretary for state Comptroller Edward V. Regan.
"We weren't going to close our eyes to the problems in 1991 just because we were auditing the 1990" fiscal year, Ms. Munk added.
As for the sale, Gerald J. Mecca, Monroe's director of finance, said the county will sell the notes in a negotiated sale Monday through an underwriting syndicate led by First Albany Corp. PaineWebber Inc. and Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette Securities Corp. will serve as co-senior managers.
Mr. Mecca said the negotiated sale will save the county money.
He denied speculation he chose to sell the notes through a negotiated deal because of any negative publicity stemming from the comptroller's report.
Mr. Mecca said the report would not have affected a competitive bond sale because most of what it describes is already public.
The comptroller's report, for example, cited an accumulated deficit of $33.5 million from 1988 through 1991. The report also projected a $42 million deficit by the end of fiscal 1992, which ends Dec. 31.
But Mr. Mecca said he informed the rating agencies about the county's budget problems earlier this year.
Standard & Poor's Corp., which rates Monroe's general obligation bonds AA, placed the debt on CreditWatch with a negative outlook on March 16. The rating agency said in its March report that the county had an 1991 to 1992 accumulated deficit of as much as $45 million.
Moody's Investors Service rates the county GOs A1, while Fitch Investors Service rates them AA-minus.
Mr. Messa said the county's accumulated deficit through 1992 could run as high as $50 million. David Kassnoff, a spokesman for the county executive, said the accumulated deficit could reach $90 million through 1993.
To help close the entire gap, Mr. Mecca has proposed a one percentage point sales tax increase that would raise the levy to 8% from 7%. He has also recommended cutting spending. The county legislature is scheduled to vote on the plan June 9.
County officials blame their financial predicament on the administration of former county executive Thomas R. Frey, who was in office between 1988 and 1991. Mr. Frey refused to comment.