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County Legislature Approves Request For Bonds From State

Its members also approved an increase in the sales tax

 

After more than an hour of debate, the Rockland County Legislature voted to approve a resolution requesting that the state legislature authorize the county to finance its deficit by issuing bonds and raising sales and compensating use taxes by three-eighths of one percent to fund those bonds.

The plan would bring in no more than $80 million to pay off the deficit, but the amount of the actual deficit led to a lengthy discussion amongst the legislators.

Legislators Ed Day (R-New City) and Chris Carey (R-Bardonia) proposed two amendments to the resolution, one being that the county receive $18 million less because they think the deficit is only around $62 million. The other was to leave the three-eighths increase in sales tax for this year, then reduce that to one-fourth next year and leave it at that level until everything is paid off.

“The property tax increase of 2012, or what could better be described as property tax being dedicated to deficit reduction by paying deficiency note is the deficit reduction and not an expense,” Day said. “The conclusion was simple: the rejected deficit is 62 million, not 80 million.”

Day also said there’s a deficit reduction cushion in the 2012 budget.

“In the budget, there is $5 million set aside toward deficit reduction for the sale of two buildings,” he said. “That would reduce the deficit legitimately and specifically to $57 million.”

Carey said that in the numbers he’s reviewed and the information available to him, he also believes the deficit to be closer to $62 million.

“In a business and to working families struggling to balance a budget, numbers mean something,” he said. “It has be the same here. Numbers must be real and based upon reasonable assumptions and the available facts. According to the information provided to me at recent meetings and the additional clarification received from fiscal staff, it appears that the numbers are much closer to $62 million rather than $80 million.”

The first amendment was voted against 9-5, with three legislators being absent from the meeting and thus not voting. The second was voted against 10-4.

The disagreement over the $18 million comes from whether it not that is being covered by an increase in property tax in the 2012 budget. Day said it’s being covered in the increase and thus it shouldn’t be included in the deficit. Budget & Finance Committee Chairman Ilan Schoenberger (D-Ramapo) said the $18 million was originally proposed by County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef as a one-time surcharge, but the legislature was told by auditors that would result in them having to do it again the following year.

“What the legislature Budget & Finance Committee did and the legislature approved -- and the legislature voted for it and some legislators voted against it -- was to take that $18 million one-time surcharge and recognize it for what it really was, which was a real property tax increase, and make it a real property tax increase, not a one-time surcharge,” he said. “That $18 million was raised to run Rockland county’s expenses and finances for calendar-year 2012. What we did was raise your property taxes to balance the budget.”

For those reasons, Schoenberger said the deficit should include that extra $18 million, which is also where the county’s consultants, O’Connor, Davies, Munns and Dobbins, had the deficit pegged in their analysis of the Rockland 2012 budget, as read during Tuesday night’s meeting by Schoenberger.

“We have an $80 million deficit no matter how you slice it,” he said. “We have to deal with that deficit.”

If the state allows Rockland to follow the plan approved Tuesday night, they would sell the bonds and pay the money back over 10 years.

Schoenberger added that if when the deficit is certified, it turns out to be less than $80 million, the county would be obligated to immediately pay back the difference, so if the deficit is $75 million, they’d have to pay back that $5 million right away. Then the deficit bond would have to be sold at the price of the actual deficit, opposed to the price of the original amount.

“So if Legislator Day is correct, it will automatically be reduced,” Schoenberger said. “Let’s take the other side. Let’s say after the certification’s made that the deficit is not 80 million, but 85 million. We cannot sell above 80 million because that’s all the state authorized us, if this whole new request is enacted.”

Legislator Joseph Meyers (D-Airmont) wasn’t sure if this was the right move for the county, and said “it doesn’t work when you keep doing the same dumb thing over again.” He added he’d like to wait for all the reports to come in to get some more solid figures opposed to just trying to get money as quickly as possible. Schoenberger said the quicker they get a resolution into the state, the quicker they’ll get an answer, and this way if the state rejects the proposal, they’ll have more time to think about the county’s next step.

Nancy Low-Hogan (D-Nyack) said she sees this as a “critical first step” and “just a piece of what we must do to help fix our county.”

Michael N. Hull January 18, 2012 at 12:54 PM
Mad Hatter's Tea Party Cheshire Cat: He went that way. Alice: Who did? White Rabbit with his 80 million dollar plan He did what? Went to Albany for a band aid Is he in dire straits? He's bleeding to death! Is that why White Rabbit is white? Did he take numbers? No, silly Cat, budgets don't have numbers. Money first, budget later. (Grinning) The Paper Queen said you have 62 million numbers. Don't grin at me. I'll talk to the Queen again. Off with your head! I can't find 18 million dollars. Raise the rabbits' taxes! Look there! Grimace has a city plan! He's purring on his cushion! Put his cushion in White Rabbit's plan! You silly Cat, raise taxes! We don't raise taxes, we put them in White Rabbit's plan. The White Rabbit has them in his plan? It's not a plan, it's a step. Step first, plan later! I will call the Queen's control board! Off with your heads! I called them! You did? No I did! Did I? Grimace did! Did he? The White Rabbit is heading out the window. Stop him! Show leadership! Close the window! White Rabbit says they won't pay if we have a window. Oh dear, a last ditch effort. There is no dysfunction in GrimaceLand! Does Grimace have a plan? He wants to live in a city! Can we put a city in our plan? Oh dear, I can't find 18 million dollars! But didn't you just say - I mean - Oh, dear. Cheshire Cat: Can you stand on your head? Alice: My head? Call the paper queen! Off with all of your heads!
Watchdog January 18, 2012 at 01:33 PM
If this bunch of incompetent, disengenuous losers get away with this it will be the biggest HEIST in the history of Rockland County. And nex year they will be back for MORE. This does not solve the problem because they do not know or won' t reveal the extent of the problem.. This deficit is HUGE, a result of mismanagement and deceit. Where did this $80 MILLION go? It went to Medicaid, salaries and benefits, including those who are proposing to correct it. THIS IS NOT THE END. CLARKSTOWN AND ORANGETOWN NEED TO SECEDE FROM THE COUNTY. THE NORTHERN SECTION OF THIS COUNTY IS BLEEDING TNE REST OF US DRY.
Watchdog January 18, 2012 at 01:50 PM
They are asking for an $80,000,000 Loan...UNSECURED..In the business world, this LOAN would never be approved. Just imagine going to your banker and telling him you LOST $80,000,000 and would like to borrow the $80,000,00 to cover your loss. We wat this to be an UNSECURED LOAN, since we ave NO COLLATERAL to back it up. And one more thing Mr. Banker we don't know where this money went nor do we know if it $62,000,000 or $80,000,000? DO YOU THINK YOUR LOAN REQUEST WOULD BE APPROVED? CLARKSTWN AND ORANGETOWN NEED TO SECEDE FROM THE COUNTY. THE MORTHERN SECTION OF THE COUNTY IS BLEEDING US DRY.
Mike Hirsch January 18, 2012 at 01:51 PM
Most of the county legislative districts are gerrymandered and controlled by the political deal making of those in power, so the election process is really a farce. Chris Carey and Ed Day have set themselves apart from this very sad joke on the average citizen who is uninvolved and uninformed. Five votes out of 17 tells it all. The majority really could care less about being fiscally responsible. All they care about is that their seats are secure.
Watchdog January 18, 2012 at 02:11 PM
Mike, the dysfunction, lies, deceit, stealing, cheating and overspending for the most part not done in Clarkstown or Orangetown. The DEMOCRAT LIBERALS Have controlled this county since it it started. This is a smaller version of OBAMA SPREAD THE WEALTH. They will never have enough money.
Michael Gries January 18, 2012 at 02:34 PM
Buy NJ, Bye-Bye NY
Mike Hirsch January 18, 2012 at 02:54 PM
Please check out, and spend some time, on our website www.clarkstowntaxpayers.com if you would like to know what's been going on in Clarkstown,
BenRound January 18, 2012 at 03:01 PM
Don't you just love NewSquare Legislator Schoenberger suddenly becoming an expert on financial management? Make no mistake,he runs the Legislature. His constituents will receive all possible benefits regardless....on our fat dime.
Mike Hirsch January 18, 2012 at 03:15 PM
Absolutely correct. By the way, Alex is looking into the possible purchase of the Gittleman building, which I think most of the citizens would support.
Watchdog January 18, 2012 at 05:47 PM
Mike, I am with you on that. I meant that most of the funds being spent by the County is not for the benefit of Clarkstown or Orangetown residents. Gromack is just as bad.
Watchdog January 18, 2012 at 05:49 PM
The Hats and the illegal offspring benefit the most from the largesse of the County.
Mike Hirsch January 18, 2012 at 05:59 PM
If Alex would just start thinking like a businessman and stop giving away our money to his political supporters and start reducing spending by reining in our public employee costs, I could live with that.
Mike Hirsch January 18, 2012 at 06:04 PM
Correction - Alex is in discussions with the owners of the building to see what the possibilities are.
Watchdog January 18, 2012 at 06:24 PM
Where is the Gittleman building? Isthat the school?
Mike Hirsch January 18, 2012 at 09:58 PM
Yes

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