Ed Day, Rockland County Executive
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 12, 2014
Contact: Scott Salotto (845) 638-5645
COUNTY EXECUTIVE DAY USES LINE-ITEM VETO POWER TO ELIMINATE NEARLY $700,000 IN WASTEFUL SPENDING
Restorations To The Budget Flout The Will Of Voters, Erode Revenues, May Lead To Credit Downgrade
NEW CITY, NY -- Saying the Legislature refused to take even the most modest steps toward cutting costs, County Executive Ed Day today used his line-item veto power to reduce the 2015 adopted County Budget by more than $700,000, driving down the average property tax increase next year to only 1.3%
"In October, I proposed a bold spending plan for 2015 that stays within the state's two-percent tax cap, maintained all essential county services and honored the Legislature's law mandating a $10 million payment to reduce the deficit," said County Executive Day. "We set priorities, separated wants from needs and stretched every dollar. We protected the pocketbooks of Rockland's taxpayers. Sadly, what the legislators approved last week will weaken these priorities and put Rockland County government at risk."
Day proposed a $772 million budget that held taxpayer-supported spending on County operations to an increase of 2% for the coming year, the first time Rockland County has not exceeded the state-mandated property tax cap introduced by Governor Cuomo in 2011. Last week, the Democratic-controlled Legislature pushed through additions and deletions, including millions in phony revenues and wasteful spending.
In order to reverse spending reductions proposed in Day's budget, the full Legislature voted to amend its own Deficit Financing Act, which required an annual payment of $10 million toward deficit reduction until the county's remaining deficit is eliminated. Under the amendment, the annual payment would be reduced to a minimum of $4 million.
Said Day, "My original proposal made the hard decisions on spending while following the law. But, the Legislature's decision to amend the Deficit Financing Act pushed those hard decisions off their plates. In short, they changed the rules midgame to free up $7 million. They took the easy way out."
County Executive Day also criticized the Legislature for including nearly $1.7 million in highly suspect savings in its 2015 budget. As part of its fiscal plan, legislators reduced contributions to the Summit Park complex by $844,200, reduced the County's contingency account by $250,000, increased salary savings by $324,000 and decreased utility expenses by $449,100.
"Using fuzzy math and financial gimmicks are tell-tale signs of an undisciplined approach to budgeting," said the County Executive. "It's these types of actions that raise the concerns of our creditors and the rating agencies. While their short-sighted moves will save jobs today, they continue us down the road to financial decline, including the risk of another near-default. The 15-to-2 vote to continue spending might be appropriate for a county flush with cash or unconcerned with fiscal prudence, but Rockland is neither."
Despite the Legislature's unwise financial decisions, the Day Administration remains committed to a vast and historic restructuring of government operations. The overstaffed and "top heavy" Rockland County Sheriff's Office will face realignment to eliminate duplicative police services and return the department to its core function of patrolling County properties. Additionally, a new system of value and performance metrics will reform the county's funding of non-mandated contract agencies.
Said Day, "I have the responsibility to maintain fiscal discipline regardless of whether my vetoes are sustained. Moving forward, this organization will continue to grow more efficient and less expensive by consolidating functions and reducing administrative costs, all while keeping to a fiscally sustainable path. I will not allow the 'politics as usual' actions of the Legislature to push us deeper into debt."
Day's twenty vetoes can be overridden by a two-thirds vote (12) of the legislators. The Democrats control the body by a 12-5 margin over the Republicans. If the County Executive's vetoes are overridden, the Legislature will be responsible for raising taxes. "The budget vetoes I issued today crystalize the differences in approach in governance between the Executive and Legislative branches."
The purpose of the twenty line-item vetoes is to cull out the most fiscally irresponsible items and to apply spending control onto the free-spending Legislative amendments to the 2015 budget. "These 20 vetoes are emblematic of my commitment to reforming Rockland County government. I sincerely hope to work together with the full Legislature toward this shared goal in the future," said Day.