Once again here in Rockland we have a solution that is needlessly becoming a problem.
The solution: we have successfully negotiated a contract with sheriff deputies who have been working without one for six years that is fair to them and fair to the taxpayer.
The problem: some in our Legislative majority would rather play games than approve it.
Our heroes in blue who have been waiting six years had every reason to think that we had a deal. It was a good one for taxpayers and acceptable to the union.
It covers 2011-2016 and calls for a one and half percent retroactive increase per year.
When my administration submitted the contract to the Legislature for approval, we showed in detail where the funding to pay the estimated $2.1 million cost would come from.
Instead of approving this carefully crafted agreement, the Legislative majority chose instead to play political games.
They tried to sneak in another $1 million in nonexistent sales tax revenue and eliminated some positions – including one dedicated to finding and preventing fraud.
In the process they laid off a single mother who had just been hired and put in jeopardy a $3 million federal grant.
The Legislative majority went so far as to submit to my office for approval a budget that differed from the one that the entire body voted on.
The County Attorney rejected the changes and observed something shameful: the resolution voted upon and sent to me was not only changed but this record was certified as true.
Now we’re at a standoff – if the contract isn’t approved soon it will be too late to abide by its term.
That means the contract will go to arbitration. And you, the taxpayer, will get the bill not just for the arbitration but likely for a contract that will cost more than the handshake deal we reached.
All to make a political point.
This debacle rests squarely on the shoulders of the Majority leadership, because they paid more attention to political gamesmanship instead of the fiduciary responsibilities they swore to uphold to the taxpayer.
All seven members of the Republican minority, led by Legislator Lon Hofstein, stood up for our men and women in blue and expressed their support for the contract.
Our sheriff deputies put their lives on the line every day to keep us safe.
They worked without a contract for six years.
They agreed to a deal with a modest increase.
And now those in the Legislative majority can’t even be bothered to do the right thing and vote for it.
This is, unfortunately, a similar situation to the Sain Building, where once again we have a solution – a buyer ready to pay more than the appraised value for a county building that is unneeded and in bad shape – that has turned into a problem courtesy of the Legislative majority.
My administration deals with solutions. We make decisions based on what’s best for the county and, above all, the taxpayer.
Too bad our partners in government are more interested in creating problems than working together to solve them.