Clarkstown Town Supervisor Alex Gromack addressed residents Tuesday night about the financial implications for the town of Rockland County’s fiscal crisis. Gromack outlined the series of costs that the county wants to make the responsibility of the five towns in Rockland. He estimated Clarkstown would face $2 million for Board of Election services, c fees and other costs.
“There has been a tremendous push by the county executive and the legislature to shift a lot of costs that we believe are costs that the county must bear and there is an attempt to shift them to the five towns,” said Gromack.
The county is facing at least an $80 million deficit and is asking the state legislature to approve a for that amount. According to Gromack, there are four services that the town may have to determine how to fund that have not been included in its budget:
- Board of Elections - $434,000
- Rockland Community College (RCC) chargeback fees - $584,000
- Countywide Police Intelligence Unit - $543,239 for two officers
- Countywide Police Narcotics Task Force - $446,000 for four officers
“These certainly are chilling numbers we will have to deal with unless things are reversed,” he said.
Gromack said RCC receives $2.8 million in tuition fees from out-of-county students who are enrolled there. He said that revenue is not shared with the towns and therefore it is not appropriate for the college to pass along the costs of Rockland resident who attend community colleges in other parts of the state.
The supervisor said the county’s deficit could be significantly higher than the $80 million now stated. In light of that he said the county’s shift of about $10 million of costs to the towns does not erase the deficit.
He also spoke about the new taxes that the county is imposing on residents. Gromack noted the county tax rate increased 30 percent; the hotel/motel tax went up three percent, the cell phone 911-tax rose by three percent. He said the four percent increase for residential energy use is equivalent to another 30 county property tax rate.
Council member Stephanie Hausner added that if the $2 million in costs were actually passed along to Clarkstown, it would be difficult for the town to stay under the two percent property tax cap.
Gromack spoke prior to the start of the regular Town Board meeting and said he will update residents on regular basis as needed. He said the five towns are united in their effort in fighting the transfer of the county costs.