The Rockland County Legislature approved a revised 2013 budget by a 10 to 7 vote on Tuesday evening. It was forwarded on Wednesday to County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef, who has five business days to act on it. His options are to accept the budget, veto it or veto line items.
"There's not a lot of dramatic changes,” said Vanderhoef on Wednesday. “We have five days."
The bottom line of the budget remained the same with a total of $736.9 and tax increase of 18.4 percent which is $157 for the average homeowner. The legislature restored the 69 positions, which had been eliminated in Vanderhoef’s original plan and cut overtime in the sheriff’s department.
Vanderhoef commented on the increased tax rate included in the budget.
"It's less than what you pay for Cablevision,” he said. “We are still one of the lowest in New York State. Do I like raising taxes? No. Do I have to pay for state mandates? I do) I (have) got to find the money. I now have to look at the budget and see if it's fair and balanced enough to get us through. The problem with Rockland is that we don't have a surplus."
By next Wednesday, Dec. 12, Vanderhoef must act on the budget.
“Right now it’s in a review stage,” said Ron Levine, county communications director. “Now he’s going to let the process in the (county) charter work.”
Levine said the finance department is evaluating the budget revisions. Levine said one of Vanderhoef’s major concerns is how the rating agencies will view the budget. The county’s bond rating is one level above junk bond status and its budget deficit is estimated at $96 million.
If Vanderhoef vetoes part or all of the budget, it goes back to the legislature. The legislature's next scheduled meeting is Dec. 18. It could override a veto or line item vetoes with the votes of at least 12 legislators. There must be an approved county budget by Dec. 20.