County of Rockland
Consumer Protection / Weights & Measures

2019 Accomplishments

  • The department re-structured its impound program by amending and updating the policy and procedure concerning the seizure of unlicensed contractor vehicles, tools and equipment. The department began a successful re-implementation of the impound program which has served as a powerful deterrent especially when the information is disseminated over a variety of outlets to include social media, print and radio. Impounds not only ensure that an unlicensed contractor is unable to further conduct their illegal business, they provide county revenue with the fines and penalties involved. Additionally, it also supports our local towing businesses.

    The department expanded its public awareness footprint in several ways. We have partnered with John Lyon in providing content for distribution through a number of official Rockland County media outlets. The goal has been and will continue to be the education of the Rockland County public as to the consumer services that the department provides. However, it is also geared toward educating those contractors who remain unlicensed and provide information about obtaining the appropriate license. We have also partnered with the Office of the Aging in submitting Consumer Protection content for their bi-monthly newsletter "Moving Forward" as well as a frequent presence on WRCR radio and public speaking engagements to a number of community groups. Additionally, the department has created a Facebook page which highlights major cases, consumer articles and scams.

    Through the increased enforcement of unlicensed contractor activity, the department substantially increased its rate of prosecutions of unlicensed contractors by 87% when compared to 2018. This equates to 122 prosecutions in 2018 compared to a record high of 228 in 2019.

    Through our consumer complaint process, we have successfully mitigated cases in favor of homeowners who have been taken advantage of by both licensed and unlicensed contractors. Cases are reviewed and investigated by bringing all parties into negotiations based upon a number of factors to include contract violations, below industry standard work and unlicensed activity. The restitution revenue that we were able to return to homeowners in 2019 was $62,766 and when compared to $35,365 in 2018, is an increase of 77.5%.

    Because of our increased enforcement endeavors, an uptick in contractor licensing and full staffing, we have been experiencing an increase in department revenue. In 2018, our revenue, across the spectrum, was $1,511,596. Our revenue for 2019 is recorded at $1,712,342, which is an increase of 13.25 %. With an allocated 2020 operating budget of approximately $2,125,000 we are consistently moving closer to becoming financially self-supporting enabling the department to take less of the local share.

    The department has developed a close working relationship with the Rockland County Sheriff. Sheriff's officers assist us frequently when we encounter dangerous work sites, uncooperative violators and the seizure of vehicles, tools and equipment when we enforce of our impound law.

    The department has fostered relationships with the numerous building departments throughout the county. These relationships have enabled us to work collaboratively on difficult job sites so where one department does not have authority, the other one usually does. This has increased the success rates of all parties in enforcing both county and town/village laws. Additionally, this provides a strength in numbers concept and serves as a deterrent for other would be violators.

    Weights & Measures Inspectors successfully completed all quotas and inspected all gas station pumps and commercial weighing devices. They also identified a number of businesses, both large and small, selling expired perishable and non-perishable food items. This office takes this very seriously as expired food items can cause serious health issues. Some of the businesses are repeat offenders in selling these items to our consumers and have received stern warnings and financial penalties. We have monitored these businesses and verified that they have changed their business practices to ensure that our consumers purchase only fresh edibles.

2020 Goals

Partnership with the Rockland County District Attorney for a seamless transition in providing all newly required information within the compulsory time frames as mandated by the New York State Criminal Justice Reform. We have jointly developed an avenue to exchange information creating an efficient and timely workflow between the offices. The department will develop new protocols and procedures to ensure that all prosecutions and discovery information are completed and forwarded to the DA's office for the court action. This will also include amending our processes in the field for all additional discovery material now required under New York State law.

Work with the various boards, industries and County Law in the amendment and revision of the Rockland County Towing, Electrical and Plumbing laws. The laws have not been updated in a number of years and need to address the changes in industry standards as well as the schedule of licensing fees, service charges and fines and penalties.

Work with County Law and the Rockland County Legislature in the development and approval of the Taxi law and the Contractors Integrity Act. While the Taxi law has been discussed and re-drafted for many years, decisions need to be made concerning jurisdiction and enforcement matters. The Contractors Integrity Act is currently in draft form and its language is designed to curtail illegal building. It will require ALL contractors within Rockland County to register and obtain a license from this department. The main purpose of the law is to ensure that all permits and permissions are granted, and regulations are followed, prior to the construction of a new dwelling.

Continue the partnership with the Planning Department in the development of a multi-agency software application. This software and related programming will increase our efficiencies across our licensing and enforcement spectrums. It will create on-line formatting for license applications and complaints and track statuses for both the department and the licensee. This will drastically improve our internal processes and workflow, reduce time frames and enable a mobile application for all parties.

The department will deploy technology to our staff of Inspectors for both Consumer Protection and Weights & Measures. Laptop computers have been approved and will be distributed to all field staff. The benefits are an increase in efficiency and adherence to the New York State Criminal Justice Reform. In having the ability to quickly transfer files to the DA's office, we can adhere more effectively to the newly required discovery rules.

Because of numerous complaints and inquiries, we will meet with the solar power industry to streamline homeowner solar panel contracts, lease agreements and installations. Additionally, we will work with the Home Improvement Licensing Board to develop a new limited general contractor license classification for solar panel installation.

With the procurement of a new heavy-duty vehicle and a 150-gallon prover, our Weights & Measures Inspectors will be able to test high flow diesel fuel dispensers and vehicle tank meters mounted on oil delivery trucks.