It took the people of Rockland County just four days to fill four tractor-trailer trucks to the brim with relief supplies for fellow citizens in Puerto Rico.
As proud as I am of our County government staff, particularly my Deputy County Executive Guillermo Rosa for organizing this effort, I know that it could not have been done without the assistance of our non-profit agencies.
They answered the call for help as they always do. We coordinated with United Way of Rockland, which will handle our relief efforts going forward through our partnership, the Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster.
Groups as diverse as the Girl Scouts, Rockland Immigration Coalition, People to People and so many others helped with this effort.
Their response proves a point that we have emphasized again and again: Rockland County’s non-profit organizations provide invaluable services and enrich our county in immeasurable ways.
That is why I am particularly proud that the budget I have submitted to the Legislature contains $21.3 million in funding for nonprofits in Rockland County, the most ever.
This is a wise investment for taxpayers and for residents. Public-private partnerships like the ones we have with nonprofits can deliver services in a better, more efficient way.
Our nonprofits do so much for Rockland County, including creating jobs and generating economic activity.
They include groups that feed the hungry, like People to People, organizations that help our elderly, like Meals on Wheels, and those that assist our children, including Big Brothers Big Sisters and Child Care Resources.
Rockland’s diversity is reflected in these non-profits, with funds allocated to groups including Jewish Family Services, Jewish Federation of Rockland, Konbit Neg Lakay, Martin Luther King Multi-Purpose Center, Bikur Cholim, St. Joseph’s Home, Catholic Community Services, India Cultural Society and others.
We are funding nonprofits that help our veterans, people with disabilities and those who need mental health assistance. Then there are the groups that bring culture and arts and visitors to Rockland County – like the Garner Arts Center, the Edward Hopper House, Rockland Center for the Arts, etc.
There’s even something for our stray cats and dogs to like in this budget – a request for capital funding for a new facility for Hi Tor Animal Care Center.
I am particularly proud that this year when we say we are funding all the non-profits, we are including the public benefit contract agencies known previously known as the 224s.
But like everything else we have done over the past four years, we are doing it smarter.
I don’t ever like giving away taxpayer dollars – your money- with no strings attached.
We have moved – migrated is the term we use – the majority of these public benefit contract agencies to a system where they have contracts with the county. That means oversight and a set of expectations and goals.
It also means in some cases that the same services are eligible for reimbursement from the state and federal government. We have already received nearly $1 million in reimbursements for services provided by these agencies.
That means the same level of service, the same amount of funding for these groups, just not from the County taxes you pay.
When I took office there was $4.3 million of taxpayer money conveyed by the Legislature to these agencies, with no oversight and no procurement process.
Now we have $3.6 million of that amount under department oversight, with rules that comply with the requirements of the New York State comptroller.
Keep in mind that our overall funding of these organizations has remained the same, if not slightly higher.
The only difference is that these organizations have been moved – migrated – so that they now have contracts with the County.
That benefits them and it benefits us. Just another part of the promise I made to make Rockland County government smarter and more efficient.