The Rockland County Legislature will vote on two proposed local laws for employee rehiring policy and creating a fund balance management policy at Tuesday’s 7 p.m. meeting. Legislator Alden Wolfe introduced both the “Rockland County Public Employee Rehiring Disclosure Act” and the “Rockland County Fiscal Stabilization Act” for county government.
Wolfe, who serves as chair of the legislature’s Budget & Finance Committee, said he believes the chances are good for passage of both proposals.
He said the county needs fiscal reform and to create better oversight of its financial situation. Wolfe said the proposal to prevent rehiring of employees who separate or leave county employ voluntarily would help to meet layoff targets. Previously, the county set layoff targets but wound up rehiring employees who had accepted incentive packages.
Wolfe said the restrictive rehiring measure would require the county executive to explain to the legislature why a particular employee should be rehired as an employee, outside contractor or consultant in order to get a waiver. Wolfe said it would reduce the potential for abuse, which has resulted in employees taking incentives and then their positions being deemed critical, which led to their rehiring.
The fund balance management policy would align with government accounting standards.
“It’s just a way of expressing our fund balance in the most proper way,” said Wolfe.
The new policy would bring Rockland’s financial procedures into line with existing standards. Wolfe said if financial conditions improve, the policy would direct the county to set aside up to five percent of its funds in a separate account. If there were more surplus funds, those would be put away in a “rainy day” fund.
He said the five percent would provide a cushion for emergency situations such as the recession or events that affect the county’s revenue stream.
“Five percent is not part of our operating budget,” he said. “Five percent is just a healthy fund balance.”
Wolfe said the resolution was developed in partnership with the county’s finance commissioner and outside auditor. He said the idea has been shared with the bond rating agencies and they were receptive. The county still has a negative bond rating that is one level above junk bond status but Wolfe is hopeful the county will be upgraded to a neutral rating in the near future.