Ed Day, Rockland County Executive

December 6, 2016

Contact: County Executive's Office
Office of the County Executive (845) 638-5122

Rockland County Executive Ed Day Responds to the Budget & Finance Committee's Report on 2017 Proposed Budget

NEW CITY, NY - Rockland County Executive Ed Day and County administrative officials and experts respond today to the reckless amendments to the County Executive's 2017 Proposed Budget that are proposed by the County Legislature. These amendments were passed by the Rockland County Legislature's Budget & Finance Committee last evening.

The proposed amendments include millions of highly suspect and non-existent revenues. These Legislative additions to the budget will set the County back fiscally. After three years of hard work undertaken by the County Executive to restore sound fiscal structure and responsible budgeting, it is no time to go back to the days of imaginary income and unrealistic tax projections.

The three most glaring problems in the Budget & Finance Committee's proposed amendments include:

  • Counting on a $4.5 million sale of the Sain Building for a second year in a row. This revenue is put back into the budget even though forces in the Legislature have been blocking the sale for over a year. Presently, there is no reason to believe that this opposition to sell the building will just go away. We do not want to risk a $4 million plus budget hole for a second year in a row.
  • Double counting $1 million of Social Services revenue. In 2016 we placed many of the contract agencies on contracts with the Department of Social Services. As a benefit of this restructuring, the State reimburses a portion of their cost. Amazingly, in spite of being formally notified of this on October 7th that this revenue has been double counted. This will create a $1 million deficit.
  • Raising the estimated sales tax revenue projection by an additional $1.5 million. Like they did in the past, those Legislators that recommend this increased projection are just asking for deficits by overestimating income. The New York State Comptroller agreed with the County Executive's conservative and sound approach, finding that "the significant revenue and expenditure projections in the proposed budget are reasonable." This included the County Executive's conservative sales tax projection. The Legislature has now substantially increased that projection.

The sum of all the proposed non-existent revenues proposed by the Legislature is supposed to pay for all the other expenditures in their amendments. These additional expenditures include a fictitious tax decrease. That tax decrease will not occur if even one of the impossibly incorrect revenues do not pan out. In fact, these amendments have potential shortfalls that would translate into an approximate 6% property tax increase for next year.

"This will create new deficits and increase taxes next year. It will set us back substantially," said County Executive Day.

Rockland County administration and experts have roundly criticized this proposal.

Rockland County Finance Commissioner Stephen DeGroat said, "neither the rating agencies nor the New York State Comptroller's Office will look favorably on these legislative changes. These amendments are not considered sound financial practices."

Rockland County Deputy Budget Director Steve Grogan said, "the amendments represent the folly of the past 20 years, including over reliance on sales tax revenue, budgeting non-existing state aid revenue and funding of non-mandated programs at the expense of the County's fiscal health. We would be sadly repeating the past fiscal failures which have taken years of struggling to correct."

County Auditor and former Rockland Finance Commissioner Robert Bergman said, "These revenues are ill advised and regretfully return us to the lunacy of the past that resulted in a $138 million deficit which accrued in just seven years."

"Whether this is recklessness or purposeful self- destruction," continued County Executive Day, "in the end it is improper and inept budgeting. At the end of the day, my concern is the taxpayers and the future of this County."

The full Legislature will vote on the 2017 proposed budget this evening at 7 pm. All citizens are urged to attend the meeting and voice their concerns.