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Compromise Bill For Rockland Finances Could Get Introduced This Week

Assemblyman Zebrowski says bill addressing Rockland’s fiscal crisis could be introduced before week’s end.

 

Assemblyman Kenneth Zebrowski (D-NewCity) hopes to introduce his for getting Rockland County’s finances in order later this week. He announced the alternative approach several days ago.  Zebrowski described it as a “complicated bill” and said he and his staff have been fine-tuning and revising the language.

“It hasn’t been introduced yet,” said Zebrowski on Monday. “The formal introduction will probably be toward the end of this week.”

He thinks the package of three bills with the additional oversight and enforcement and decreased burden on taxpayers will draw the support it needs from the governor’s office and both houses of the legislature. 

“The assembly and governor’s office have both said they would consider it,” he said, adding the governor’s office specifically said it was concerned about the impact on county taxpayers. Once the wording is finalized, he plans a presentation to the governor’s office. 

One of the key measures is a sale tax increase but a smaller percentage than originally sought by county government.  Under the bill, there would be a one-quarter of one percent in the sales tax for three years, which must be reviewed every two years.  The mortgage and transfer tax proposals, which had been initially passed by the county legislature and approved by the county executive, are not part of Zebrowski’s plan.

In all, his plan includes three legislative bills.  Zebrowski said two measures are more preventative measures to prevent a financial crisis like this from occurring again — including a fiscal indicator system for county budgets and one could potentially save Rockland $1.3 million by lowering its pension costs.

He will propose a Rockland County Deficit Reduction Taskforce with nine members, who would not be paid. The governor would appoint four members and one of those individuals would be the chairperson. The temporary president of the state senate, speaker of the assembly, Rockland County executive, Rockland County Legislative chairperson and state comptroller would each appoint one member of the taskforce.

The Taskforce would remain in place for three years but it could extend its work by its own vote.  All reports and recommendations by the Task Force would be made public and accessible.

According to Zebrowski, the Taskforce’s Powers and Duties would:

  • Require the County to annually prepare and submit a balanced multi-year financial plan. 
  • Require the County to review the annual and multi-year budget recommendations of the Taskforce and make adjustments to the annual and multi-year budget for each recommendation. If the County Executive and County Legislature wish to reject any of the submitted recommendations, the County must enact a local law for each individual recommendation that it seeks to reject and must be approved by two-thirds of the County Legislature.
  • Prepare quarterly budget reports and submit such reports to the governing board and chief executive officer of the County, the State Director of the Budget, the State Comptroller, the Chair of the Assembly Ways and Means Committee, the Chair of the Senate Finance Committee and the Taskforce.
  • Submit the County tentative or preliminary budget to the Taskforce no later than 30 days before the budget has to be adopted, for review and recommendations.
  • Review the operations, structure and services of the Summit Park Nursing home and make recommendations for a long-term plan.
  • Review the revenue sharing arrangement between the County, Towns and Villages and make a recommendation for long-term changes.

Additionally, the measures would creates the Local Government Fiscal Indicator System for local government finances to determine if they are experiencing fiscal stress.  The legislation provides for appropriate state fiscal intervention in order prevent situations like Rockland County’s budget deficit from occurring in the future.  It also requires all municipalities with annual budgets over $10 million to annually prepare and submit multi-year financial plans to the State Comptroller for review.

Zebrowski said he has discussed the major components of the plan with State Senator David Carlucci but would not comment further on Carlucci’s possible position on the bill.

Zebrowski said the plan would make major strides toward helping Rockland.

“I would hope this could prevent any layoffs,” he said.  “I do think the county will have to tighten its belt. The county’s hole in its budget is astronomical.”

Ron Levine, a spokesman for County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef, said Vanderhoef and others appreciate Zebrowski "stepping up to the plate" for Rockland.

Andrew Wiley May 15, 2012 at 01:56 AM
Thank you Senator Carlucci for doing the right thing. Ken why flip your position with this plan that will not work? Please do the right thing
Michael N. Hull May 15, 2012 at 02:23 AM
Zebrowski is starting to sound like the guy who stayed up all night to see where the sun went. Then it dawned on him. But it hasn't dawned on me!  My analysis is as inane as his proposal.   1)  The package of  bills with the decreased burden on taxpayers ...... What decreased  burden?   Are taxes going down or just up a little more?   Down is 'decreased' - up is 'increased.  I was in a theatrical performance once about puns. It was a play on words.   2)  One of the key measures is a sale tax increase .... Ahhhh ,  it is an 'increased' taxpayer burden!   And for three years!  But smaller!     Makes me feel like I'm being asked to catch morning fog but I'm misting something. 3) One could potentially save Rockland $1.3 million by lowering its pension costs. ......  That sounds good, except for the word "potentially"....... When you get a bladder infection potentially urine trouble. 4) The Taskforce would remain in place for three years ..... The Statue of Liberty and the taskforce will then have something in common.  Neither will have changed their position in the next three years!
Michael N. Hull May 15, 2012 at 02:24 AM
5) All reports and recommendations by the Task Force would be made public and accessible  .... That should be worth reading like a book on anti-gravity - you won't be able to put it down.  6) Review the operations, structure and services of the Summit Park Nursing home and make recommendations for a long-term plan .... Change its name to the Velcro Nursing home. It's a rip-off.  7) Review the revenue sharing arrangement between the County, Towns and Villages and make a recommendation for long-term changes. ...... Hmmm we are going to ask Moses Gromack to come down from the mountain and tell us how he prefers his tea.  Hebrews it! 8) The Local Government Fiscal Indicator System for local government finances to determine if they are experiencing fiscal stress .... I was stressed when a doctor once gave me Type A blood.  He didn't see the Type-O. 9) “I would hope this could prevent any layoffs.  There are jobs at Rockland bakery if any of those laid off knead dough. 
Mary May 15, 2012 at 09:51 AM
"The mortgage and transfer tax proposals, which had been initially passed by the county legislature and approved by the county executive, are not part of Zebrowski’s plan." Why would they have to be? They've already been passed on the county level. Don't we have a debt commission task force on the federal level? That's working out real well. Why does he have to introduce three bills at the same time?...I wonder if he wrote them all himself.
Watchdog May 15, 2012 at 12:05 PM
Being a "service (or lack thereof) business, the primary cause of the deficit is salaries, pensions (like Lettres wife whose pension was backdated 20 years after being given a newly created job with no outside competition) and medical benefits so the logical thing for Zebrowski to do is to devise a plan to "prevent layoffs"?????? Is he daft? How about a "PLAN TO PREVENT TAXPAYERS FROM BEING SCREWED BY POLITICIANS LIKE ZEBROWSKI AND HIS SISTER"?????
Gregg May 15, 2012 at 01:37 PM
Jealousy of the Lettre family.. that is your problem. You bring the name up all the time.
F*** May 15, 2012 at 02:29 PM
Watchdog - you are dead on. We have way too many political PARASITES in Clarkstown and Rockland.
Jon A. Barber May 15, 2012 at 03:31 PM
I have been a resident of Rockland for decades. I am glad that assemblyman Zebrowksi is proactively addressing the problem. If we look what control boards have done in other places they devastate communities. Rockland is heading toward an external control of the county budget, with no voices from Rockland tax payers. Many control boards have come in and increased property taxes and they stay can stay in control for 30years. Zebrowksi's plan provides a long term solution without locking us into tax increases or outside management of our finances. I applaud him for being brave and stepping outside the box.
JillyA. May 15, 2012 at 03:36 PM
I don't understand all this negativity. From where I sit, Zebrowski is the only one trying to help and create checks so that the county gov cannot put us back into this same mess. It would be easy for him to sit around and watch the county gov implode, point fingers at the elected officials, and let the county go bankrupt, which would end up costing the taxpayers more. It takes leadership to step up and create a balanced plan that averts a crisis. It seems like the county has been dealing, or really not dealing, with financial issues for years. Now, we need the state legislators to step in and show leadership. All levels of government need to work together to solve our problems and make sure the county does not continue to dig us into a terrible hole. I think it is the job of all of our representatives to represent US and be advocates for US. The Rockland taxpayers sorely need that representation and Zebrowski is stepping up.
James Wexler May 15, 2012 at 04:50 PM
The County dug themselves this hole and sent a plan to the state, this wasn't created by Zebrowski.
Walt May 15, 2012 at 05:15 PM
Applaud him? What for? His plan calls for a sales tax increase and the formation of a task force to effectively do what the legislature was elected to do only they won't look like bad guys to their constituents if by chance the task force recommends any cuts in service. The entire RC legislature and Vanderhoef should all "step outside the box" permanently because they are all cowards that only care about being re-elected. If Zebrowski called for term limits for the RC legislature in his proposal, I would call that being proactive and stepping up. Dream on because that will never happen.
Mary May 15, 2012 at 05:19 PM
Why do we have legislators on the county level? It's just another level of government intervention. We should rid ourselves of the Rockland County Legislature, let the supervisors from each town form a joint committee and have them work in conjunction with the state to deal with our finances.
Joe T May 15, 2012 at 09:49 PM
I agree with mary who needs a county legislature!! Our county is broke someone needs to fix it and it seems the only one with a plan is Zebrowski. He has to deal with the situation as it is now; unfortunately, he can't undo the poor decisions of the county. He can only try to make a bad situation better.

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