The Poor Versus The Privileged – Rockland County’s Budget Problem

 

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The financial needs of the charitable organizations in Rockland County were explained to the County Legislature last night by representatives from organizations as diverse as Hospice and the Arts Council.

Illustrative of the decisions facing our elected officials is the situation with the Hi Tor Animal Shelter which was one of the particularly vocal groups appealing for the restoration of its budget reductions.

According to the Rockland County Times: “Internal division has riled Hi-Tor for some time, with volunteers accusing the board of directors of bullying volunteers, showing little regard for shelter operations and mismanaging finances. Such allegations led to a rift between volunteers and the board, culminating in the Board’s decision to close their meetings to the public and there was what was called a “mass exodus” of volunteers from the shelter.”

Presently, on the Hi Tor Facebook page we read: “Ok Hi Tor friends, tell him (County Executive Ed Day) how you feel…if 10% is so manageable let his staff take the hit and forgo raises that are in the 5 figure range. Rein in the rampant fraud throughout the county. Don’t hit the animals who can’t advocate or care for themselves.”

One reader, Nancy Nolan, wrote in response to this request: “How about getting rid of the corruption first before cutting basic needs…and I don’t just mean the animal shelter but all the non-profits. We can start with Ed Day. He must be doing something terrible behind the scenes to have the balls to cut these much needed services for the community. He is out to destroy Rockland. Who the heck would buy into a community that won’t financially assist basic services for people and animals. How about cutting your salary in half Ed Day and donating it to Hi-Tor or any one of the non-profits you took money from. What a jerk!”

On the County Executive’s Facebook page Day responded by saying: “In my proposed budget for 2015, and as part of eliminating all discretionary agency funding, included was the painful, but necessary decision to eliminate county funding for Hi Tor Animal Care Center. While I recognize this cut has significance, it reflects the same 10-percent voluntary cut I took to my own pay – 10-percent of the shelter’s total operating budget, as disclosed by Hi Tor’s Executive Director. We must all do more with less.”

Unmoved Nolan posted: “Ed Day…you are destroying Rockland Cty. Who would want to live here when you cut financial help to the non-profits that supply some pretty basic needs. You should be ashamed of yourself and you should be removed. Cut corruption first Ed Day. That is how you bring this county back to a healthy financial state. Please resign before you do anymore damage!”

Back on the Hi Tor page Rebecca Freimann wrote that she would let him (Day) know and asked: “What is the math? About how much money would you be losing? How many people need to donate how much money to cover the loss?”

Well, Rebecca, just look at the number of ‘likes’ on the Hi Tor Facebook page; the number is over 10,000. The math therefore runs as follows: Were each of those people who ‘like’ the work of the animal shelter to give five dollars to the shelter its budget cut would be completely replaced. Were each of these ‘likes’ to give 10 dollars, the shelter’s present financial problems would be greatly alleviated.

The County has a $138.5 million deficit; that means it has two options. 1) Add the Hi Tor funding to the deficit to be paid for by tomorrow’s taxpayers; or 2) Increase taxes on senior citizens many of whom are struggling to stay in their homes with their own pets.

The problem is the deficit.

Presently, the County can not give Hi Tor money it does not have. In many ways the Hi Tor Board is in the same position that the County Legislature finds itself in. The Hi Tor Board, even if it wanted to, could not afford to give a charitable contribution to Hospice, to the Arts Center, or to Meals on Wheels;  it must look to the County Legislature. The County Legislature can not afford to give a charitable contribution to these organizations either; it must look to the County’s taxpayers.

The County Legislature and the Hi Tor facility are BOTH ‘broke’ AND ‘broken’.

The County Legislature had a deficit of about $50 million three years ago which it permitted to balloon to $138.5 million today. The bond markets and the State’s financial comptroller have ‘blown the whistle‘ and stopped the ‘deficit game’. Now it is time for some basic decisions to be made such as: Is Sheriff Falco’s bloated top brass and his horses more important than the Hi Tor shelter?

That is only one example of the many decisions the county legislators have to make in the next couple of weeks.

Chairman Wolfe and County Executive Day were not elected to have a political mud fight to the amusement of we who observe these leadership failures and write about them. They have a couple of weeks to get together and do what they were elected to do – eliminate deficit spending and stop out-of-control taxation while providing the citizens of Rockland County with the necessary services that only government can properly provide.

Everyone is waiting for the political children to grow up. Some brass-plated oxen need to be gored; some piggy banks need to be broken while the poor and the helpless need to be sustained.

About Michael N. Hull

Michael N. Hull has lived in Rockland County for 35 years where he writes articles on philosophy and political affairs. Hull has written over 300 articles for New City Patch and Rockland Voice. He is presently a senior editor of the Facebook page Clarkstown: What They Don't Want You To Know and a senior editor of Rockland Voice.

About the Author
Michael N. Hull has lived in Rockland County for 35 years where he writes articles on philosophy and political affairs. Hull has written over 300 articles for New City Patch and Rockland Voice. He is presently a senior editor of the Facebook page Clarkstown: What They Don't Want You To Know and a senior editor of Rockland Voice.

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