It’s no secret. Rockland County is on financial life support. This has been a disturbing fact for some time. Our current budget deficit surpassing $140 million dollars is a result of years of gross mismanagement, bad decisions and unfunded state mandates.
My campaign for County Executive included a detailed plan to get our fiscal house in order. I never promised to fix things overnight. What I did promise were innovative ideas, intelligent decisions, hard work and honesty.
These themes resonated with the people, who elected me to lead the County into better times. I have been clear from the start: the battle to pull Rockland County from the brink would take cooperation from all. While my new Administration has successfully reached into our multi-faceted communities to partner with the people on several critical issues, collaboration with our leaders in the County Legislature has so far been elusive.
I set a conciliatory tone on day one, encouraging a united front with the Legislative Leadership during my inaugural address in Pomona, saying “We will get this County well by working together.” Just a few weeks later, during my first State of the County message, I offered to “partner with the Legislature” to move toward an economic turnaround. Sadly, just five months later, there is only division. Paralysis by several high-ranking legislators is threatening our fiscal recovery.
Most recently, this Administration was given assurances by Legislative Leadership that action would be taken on a time-sensitive resolution regarding the application of an $11 million premium earned on the sale of the County’s $96 million deficit financing bond. A crystal clear rationale for action was laid out. After several weeks of delays and excuses, this matter remains unresolved. Continued obfuscation by the Chairman will now cost Rockland County taxpayers $250,000 in extra borrowing costs.
Simply put, the Chair and his cohorts are sitting on their hands for political purposes. And, it’s not the first time this year. I am still waiting for legislators to take action on the Tuxedo Reserve project. Instead of making the best choices for the County, some in our Legislative Leadership are working overtime to score ideological and political points at the expense of the people of Rockland County.
We elect our legislators to make policy decisions and enact laws on our behalf. It’s my job as County Executive to manage operations and carry out the policies implemented by the Legislature. We expect our legislators to make decisions. We do not expect them to interfere with operations. But, continued political grandstanding by some has led to an inability to make important decisions about this County’s finances. This inaction is starting to impact operations, and not for the better.
Rockland County is branded as the most fiscally-stressed county in New York by the Comptroller’s Office. My Administration is taking the bold actions required to change our economic trajectory. I am making the hard choices. The people have demanded nothing less. If Legislative Leadership continues to act as a roadblock to our progress, the people must know.
I implore all County residents to contact your local Legislator to urge cooperation in the weeks and months ahead.