Ed Day, Rockland County Executive
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 4, 2014
Contact: Scott Salotto (845) 638‐5645
COUNTY EXECUTIVE DAY DELIVERS FIRST STATE OF COUNTY
Day Promises A Fundamental Economic Realignment Of Rockland County Government; Vows To Work Every
Day On Solving Budget Crisis
NEW CITY, NY ‐‐ Rockland County Executive Ed Day this evening delivered his first State of the County message, providing a candid assessment of Rockland's dire financial picture, including a projected, unaudited budget deficit of $145 million.
"I want to reassure each resident of Rockland County that we are focused every day on putting the county's fiscal house back in order. We will blaze our own path to a healthy future by making hard choices," said Day. "We must never return to the irresponsible budgeting practices of the past, and we won't. This I promise."
Day, who took office January first, delivered his speech from the Legislative Chambers of the Allison‐Parris Office Building n New City. The address covered three specific areas: stabilizing finances, job creation and promoting economic growth and safeguarding Rockland County from overdevelopment and downzoning.
Because of the financial crisis, Day announced the appointment of Rockland's former Commissioner of Budget and Finance, Robert Bergman, as Acting County Auditor. "Bob's vast experience with budgets and cash management will help us realize the true extent of the crisis and rapidly respond to it, " Day said. "His review will focus on expenditures, debt, short‐term and long‐term liabilities, the condition of the tax base, financial policies and practices and transparency."
The county executive said that Rockland's current financial predicament will be only partially eased by the sale of the Summit Park complex in Pomona and the $96 million deficit bond, secured last week, with the approval of the state Comptroller's Office. Said Day, "The sale of the hospital and the bond will buy us extremely limited time to implement a series of aggressive changes that will make us more efficient."
Day also announced a "total makeover" of Rockland County government, including the restructuring of departments, agencies and salaries. "In the County Executive's Office, my administration was the first to face the paring knife." Day said. The transformation will continue in each county department, including a hold on routine hirings and the end of unnecessary overtime. Said day, "Over the next several months, we will radically redesign our governmental structures and operations, right‐size our salaries, restore integrity and increase performance in this organization."
Day urged his partners in the Rockland County Legislature to join him in crafting a balanced budget for 2015 that focuses on the essentials and "reflects the ideals of the county's hard‐working taxpayers."
On other matters:
- Day renewed his pledge to find a workable solution to East Ramapo School District crisis.
- Day promised to continue the fight against the onslaught of state‐mandated programs using county tax dollars, an urgent problem facing county leaders and schools across the state.
- Day vowed to partner with Novartis, the Rockland Economic Development Corporation and others to market and reposition the soon‐to‐be vacant Novartis site in Suffern.
- Day announced the County's use of social media to "open the windows" of county government. Rockland now uses Twitter and Facebook to bring residents and visitors better and faster information about county services and events, while also providing a valuable forum for people to express their needs and concerns.
In the course of his speech, Day paid special tribute to two county residents who inspire others through exceptional deeds and community spirit. West Haverstraw Volunteer Firefighter Jerry Knapp was seriously injured in a natural gas explosion in January, 2012. Since then, Jerry has been on a crusade on county and state levels to change response plans and training procedures used by utility companies and fire departments during gas emergencies. Skye Maisel of New City traveled to California in December to volunteer in distressed areas of Los Angeles, helping the local homeless community. The ninth‐grader at Clarkstown North High School was honored by Day for her commitment to personal growth and developing a sense of building community.
Despite the grim picture of the county's finances, Day concluded his speech on an upbeat note, saying "I ask you to join me as we restore confidence, predictability and stability to our finances, set the stage for unprecedented economic growth and keep Rockland County's landscape free from abuse. Let us turn the page and write a new chapter in Rockland County's history. A chapter which reflects how our people ‐ working together ‐ provided the dynamic solutions that led to the best of times in our county's proud history."
For the complete text of the speech, visit Rocklandgov.com (County Executive)