A Weed By Any Other Name?

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One horticultural definition of a ‘weed‘ refers to it as being a ‘misplaced plant‘. Weeds grow faster among the plants whose survival is desired. Those of us who are gardeners know that periodically weeds must be uprooted and the flowers of our garden must be fertilized.

What grows faster than weeds in one’s garden? Government deficits! For those of us living in Rockland County the ‘deficit weeds’ have grown to the sum of 138.5 million dollars. That deficit threatens to choke the flowers of business that are the basis of Rockland County’s economy.

Why did this happen?

Those who are trained as accountants to be the ‘gardeners of economies‘ know deficits are a basic failure of the husbandry of taxpayers’ resources. When a government spends more money than it has everything looks green and healthy except one is being fooled by the growth of the deficit weeds.

Over the past many years Rockland County’s budget has been fertilized with revenue projections that were unrealistic. Expenses were incurred to be paid for with monies that were never obtained.

Go ahead, pause for a moment, and say WHAT????  After all as parents you are teaching your children that they cannot spend more money than you have given them in their allowance. That’s very reasonable, isn’t it? Clearly this is a very basic financial concept.

Yet for years the County’s budget has been based on receiving money the legislature didn’t have and was unlikely to receive. Unrealistic revenue projections are mistakes that ultimately become the burden of the taxpayers to correct by way of increased taxes. As time has evolved, this approach to poor fiscal management has led to the continuous spending of more money than was received. This has ultimately led to where Rockland’s flowering economy became choked with deficit weeds.

We have all heard it said that those who do not heed the lessons of history are destined to repeat their past mistakes.

We cannot allow the same money management mistakes to be repeated in Rockland County. The path of poor financial husbandry is one that any gardener, farmer, businessman, taxpayer, parent and teacher knows will lead to fiscal disaster. The fiscal garden needs to be weeded and tough decisions need to be made. Some weeds have flowered and their appearance may be temporarily pleasing but eventually they will choke off the healthy fiscal plants.

Our elected officials will have to make tough decisions even if those decisions make them unpopular. Rockland County needs to prove its financial stability in the eyes of the bond markets in order to attract new businesses to our towns. For new business to be drawn to Rockland County we must prove to business owners that we are financially stable. Young couples must find Rockland an economically attractive place to move to and raise their families. Yet, how can Rockland attract such young couples when property tax increases reach double digits?

We can make this county a fertile ground for new businesses and young families but a change in how we tend the fiscal landscape must come now. As the County legislators are preparing to review the budget for the year 2015 they must realize it is time for them to get out their ‘weeding forks’ and ‘dandelion grubbers’ to bring prosperity back to Rockland.

{Picture credit: http://www.progardenbiz.com/wp/garden-weed-control/}

[Editorial note:  Hofstein won election to the County Legislature representating District 5 and will take his seat in January 2015 replacing Barry Kantrowitz]

About Lon Hofstein

Lon Hofstein is a long time Rockland County resident who is involved in various organizations in the community. Lon is also a Candidate for County Legislature – District 5

About the Author
Lon Hofstein is a long time Rockland County resident who is involved in various organizations in the community. Lon is also a Candidate for County Legislature – District 5

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