Most of you know my administration has charted a new course for Rockland County, one guided by simple, common sense principles. Our core priorities include stabilizing Rockland’s finances, promoting economic growth and preserving the County for future generations.
My Proposed Budget for 2016 is an ambitious agenda that begins the historic redesign of county government, leading to a new era of opportunity and prosperity for all our residents.
The fiscal plan shaves nearly $43 million from last year’s budget, the largest reduction in the history of Rockland County government. While some politicians talk about reducing the cost of government, my plan actually shrinks the county government budget in real dollars.
The 2016 proposal reverses the past unsustainable fiscal path and breaks the cycle of overspending and over borrowing. In fact, our operational efficiencies will shave nearly 30% from our remaining deficit by the end of this year. In basic terms, the money we’re saving is going directly to our “mortgage.”
With my proposed budget, we are overcoming the monumental challenges of paying back a $138 million debt from before I took office, a payback that logically would have resulted into nearly a 15% property tax increase. I am proud to report that through our hard work, we not only avoided that but are now able to absorb that payback AND run your government for only an added $4 per month for the average Rockland County homeowner.
This monumental achievement has been affirmed by the NYS Comptroller who stated that outside of a formal commitment to continue our deficit reduction, which we have done and will do regardless, and noting some differences of policy opinion between the two branches of government, opined that our “revenue and expenditure projections are reasonable”.
And know this also … in spite of the “noise” of a few in the legislature who keep talking an absurd narrative of doom and gloom, the fact is that the legislature’s own auditor stated that their audit and my proposed budget are less than a minuscule 4/10th’s of ONE percent apart on a nearly three quarters of a billion dollar budget!
So why do these few legislators continue to obfuscate the issue? Simply put my very tight, proposed budget provides no opportunity to fund their pet projects and favored few, and now they have to raise our taxes to do so. What better way to avoid your seeing that simple fact than by creating a false narrative of blaming a proposed budget that their own auditor affirmed as legitimate and on target?
You are all too smart for this and to be clear… If the legislature wants to add this pork and return to the mistakes of the past, THEY will have to raise your taxes. The fact is that the final form … and cost … of the 2016 budget comes from by an act of the County legislature and no political “two step” with alter that fact.
The proposed budget also seeks to better align our workforce with the taxpayers’ ability to pay; we have steadily reduced staffing levels since I took office, from commissioners to receptionists, and everyone in between. My proposal creates a leaner, smarter county government.
It will also enhance public safety and improve your security when doing business at County office buildings or visiting our parks by ensuring we have professional, armed sheriff’s deputies protecting you. Even better, this will actually generate a savings of approximately $1.5 million to taxpayers.
This proposed 2016 budget is just a start. We will have much more to do in the months and years ahead to correct our County’s fiscal course. Our taxpayers expect us to demonstrate the fiscal discipline necessary to pay down the deficit and manage county services in the most cost-efficient manner possible. And, they expect us to reach across partisan lines to work together to reach that goal. I expect to work cooperatively with a great number of clear thinking legislators on both sides of the aisle in order to meet these challenges head on.
Please reach out to your legislator and ask for a commitment to that effort. This is not about politics .. it is about working together and doing what is right to ensure Rockland’s future is bright and prosperity finds its way to all corners of our beloved county. Thank you!