Rockland County Executive candidate Ed Day unveiled the
third portion of his proposed economic plan to improve the county’s finances on
Thursday. One of the linchpins of the 10-point program is the reorganization of
county government. His proposal to solve the budget crisis follows two other initiatives
that focused on reining in overdevelopment and encouraging economic growth.
Day, who is running on the Republican and Preserve Rockland lines, placed zero based budgeting; the identification and elimination of patronage jobs and instituting 10 percent pay cuts for elected officials and the highest paid appointees at the top of his list.
Day said zero-based budgeting would require each department head to justify the need for every dollar requested. In addition to cutting patronage jobs, Day said he expects savings in upper management positions as well.
He said consolidation of county government would require developing strategies to work better with town governments and use of public safety and highway department resources. As an example, he said the sheriff’s department, which has specialty units, could be deployed differently to complement and augment local police departments. A key component would be sitting down with town supervisors and town department heads, which he said are looking forward to a county executive who will work with them.
“The model we have in Rockland I believe could be improved upon,” said Day, who is a county legislator.
Day said he received input from business leaders, union officials, firefighters, retailers, chambers of commerce and environmental groups who support his plans He said that type of broad-based support is essential.
“These (plans) have not been created in a vacuum,” he said. “We have some major challenges.”
Other components of his plan included reviewing all county and employee expenditures including overtime identifying potential waste and retaining a private sector turnaround specialist to analyze county government and find areas for cost savings and recommend improved procedures.
Day said unless substantial changes are made in the way county government operates the deficit will not be eliminated. Rockland’s current deficit is approximately $125 million.
He recommended that proposed budgets be based on the revenue actually received in the prior year and that onetime revenue sources not be included in the budget until they are actually received. Day pointed to the county’s sale of two buildings, which were included as revenue in the 2012 budget however the sales were not completed until 2013.
“We have not dealt with the root cause of what’s been going on,” said Day. “We cannot look to borrow money for a deficit bond and then come back to people later on saying we need more money.”
Day’s opponents in the November 5th election are David Fried, who is running on the Democratic, Independence and Working Families lines, and Thomas Sullivan, who is on the Conservative line.