Legislative Committee Approves Proposed Budget Without Layoffs

Budget & Finance committee votes in favor of revised 2013 budget that still carries an 18 percent property tax increase but rescinds layoffs


The Rockland County Legislature’s Budget & Finance Committee approved a revised proposed budget for 2013 on Monday night. The reworked budget proposal does not eliminate the almost 70 positions identified in the county executive’s original spending plan.  Instead it reduces overtime, does away with vacant positions, which were still accounted for in the county executive’s budget and cut contingency funding in half. 

The committee’s budget proposal will go before the full legislature tonight.  The budget remains at $736 million and still carries an 18 percent increase for property tax payers.  But it restores the mosquito control program, highway department workers and deputies in the Sheriff’s Patrol and Mounted Units. It rescinds the layoffs of security guards, food service staff in the jail and laundry service employees.

Budget & Finance Chairman Ilan Schoenberger said, “All of those (services) consist of CSEA personnel who signed a contract with the county and were told there would be no layoffs for budgetary reasons.”

He said the county had to be accountable to its employees and could not tell them one thing and then eliminate their positions with plans to replace that service with an outside agency.  The revised budget included a Legislative Appropriation Reserve of $1.4 million that would be put aside in case funds are needed. A resolution would be needed before any of the money could be used.

The vote to adopt the committee’s report on the budget was six in favor and three opposed. Legislators Philip Soskin, Harriet Cornell, Schoenberger, John Murphy Frank Sparaco and Toney Earl voted in favor with Michael Grant, Alden Wolfe and Nancy Low-Hogan casting votes against.

“My concern is we are not doing anything about the large looming deficit,” she said.  “We don’t know what is going to happen in 2014.”

Schoenberger objected to Low-Hogan’s comments.

“To say we’re not doing anything about the deficit is not true, it’s not accurate,” he said. “Were moving and we’re fighting and we’re trying to reduce the county deficit.”

The committee vote on accepting the legislature’s vote was seven in favor and two opposed.  Soskin, Cornell, Wolfe, Schoenberger, Murphy, Earl and Grant supported it.  Low-Hogan and Sparaco voted against it.

Wolfe explained he supported the legislature’s budget because he felt it was better than the budget submitted by the county executive.

The legislature’s consultants determined in some areas the county executive’s budget understated revenues.  The legislators indicated they relieved heavily on the recommendations of the auditor’s report and referred to it frequently during the more than two-hour long meeting.

Committee members also voted on restoring $188,000 of funding for contract agencies that had been cut in C. Scott Vanderhoef’s budget.  They also discussed technical adjustments requested by the county executive’s office, which actually contract agencies that had been overlooked and not budgeted for any funding.  The county’s finance commission said the $276,000 could be taken from the Early Intervention and Pre-K Programs budgets of more than $7.7 million because enrollment has been lower than projected.

Wolfe was skeptical about so much excess in those programs’ budgets.

The revised budget took out the $12 million of potential revenue from the sale of Summit Park Nursing Home & Hospital included in the original budget.  Later this month or in January, legislators expect to discuss the recommendation to establish an LDC (Local Development Corporation) to handle the sale of Summit Park.

If the full legislature passes the revised budget, it goes to Vanderhoef who can approve it or veto certain line items. If he exercises line item vetoes then the budget goes back to the legislature, which can override his vetoes with a two-thirds majority.  If they reject the revised budget then the original budget proposed by Vanderhoef goes into effect in January.

The meeting tonight begins at 6 p.m. with several public hearings prior to the discussion and vote on next year's budget.

Here is what's been discussed so far during this budget process:

  • Proposed 2013 Budget Enters Final Phases
  • Cornell Cooperative Extension Director Defends Department
  • Legislators Debate Capital Projects Despite Absent Reps
  • Consultants Point to Flaws In County Budget Proposal
  • County Mosquito Program Faces Possible Cuts
  • Public Speaks Out Against Proposed Budget At Legislature Meeting
  • Rocklanders’ Reliance On Social Services Increasing
  • Sheriff Makes Case For Restoration Of Budget Cuts
  • Proposed County Budget—Public Safety Concerns (Highway Department)
  • Proposed County Highway Layoffs May Reduce Service
  • Legislature Debates Cuts In General Services
Andrew Wiley December 04, 2012 at 02:39 PM
Thank you watchdog for all your contributions and I know you have strong opinions as do I on the budget mess. There is nothing we can do to fix this problem if our elected leaders choose not to address the long term structural deficit spending. I ran for office and tried for many years to make a difference and spent thousands of hours of my life to make a difference. I believe we can make a difference but it will take time and unfortunately property owners and taxpayers are numb to the tax increases. I look at it this way eventually enough people will feel the pain and do something but will it be to late? We will find out.
Michael Preston December 04, 2012 at 02:46 PM
That is a little naive. The site editorialises by its selection of the statements it quotes. You can be sure that the opponents of the votes will have argued against theincreased burden on taxpayers, but Patch chose to focus on the maintenance of jobs and services. That shows where its political leanings lie. Objectivity is when all sides of the case are equally aired, which is not what we see here.
what is sad..is the goverment makes a big deal over a few gas stations charging more for gas YET 18 tax increase is ok??imagine if a landloard charges 18% higher rent each year ..typical politicians..and their good ole buddies..all on the taxpayers backs....I am still waiting for one politican to even discuss the ' one of every service thru-out rockland....that is reality.......they all cry when a gas station charges a few cents more but they all hide under the desk when they say"18" tax increase..when will even one of those running propose the real way to run this county?? sad too many have union buddies they dont want to lose....so sad...and soo typical...
I think it s time for rockland to go chapter 9 after all their bond rating is the lowest in the state..rockland is the new titanic
a real contender for leading rockland county would propose a uinified rockland....so far we have NADA...they all have lost their vocal cords......what a waste of time...and before they start to do the politican sidestep and backstep..remember this county is a disaster.
Cal Mendelsohn December 04, 2012 at 03:36 PM
It's extremely sad and irresponsible that Chairman Schoenberger feels that acocuntability to County employees somehow supercedes reponsibilitya nd accountability to all Rocland taxpayers, MOST OF WHOM are not county employees. I don't get his sense of accountability here. I cannot vote for this bureaucrat for County Executive or even town dog catcher. His overriding andmisplaced loyalties are made abundantly clear by his comments and actions here. We are poorer for this type of thinking at this level, all of us.
Watchdog December 04, 2012 at 03:57 PM
Shoenbergers loyalty is to the BLOC VOTERS and the UNIONS.,He is banking on you not going out to vote...by you I mean the SILENT MAJORITY. He is the RABBI'S candidate and the RABBI rules Rockland politics.
Watchdog December 04, 2012 at 04:03 PM
Yes Michael, it is a little disingenuous but intentional for headline to read as it does.
Siobhan December 04, 2012 at 04:30 PM
No Mr Yularen: It is you who are insane. You are a member of the Independence Party which Sparaco controls even to the point of putting his motherinlaw in power until she was sent to prison for crimes committed in that position. People who live off taxpayers in patronage positions are not people that I can support. 260 people out of work in Rockland County wanted that job for $25 per hour. He got it because Wayne Ballard in Clarkstown needs the Independence Party line - that's is my opinion. If he can't run a tanning salon or a vending machine business what does he know about running Rockland County. Nothing, it is that simple. Since he lives off my tax dollar I will attack him every day of the week if I can and you can complain about it all you want. He is supposed to also be a republican - why then did he work against the republican candidate for supervisor in clarkstown - Sabatini - last year. That, in my opinion, is not something anyone with a knowledge of democratic principles would do.
Andrew Wiley December 04, 2012 at 04:52 PM
I'm not in office and I know there needs to be cost reductions. These reductions are attained through negotiations. Our leaders are authorized through their votes to raise and expend money. Get the people who can do something about this to explain where and what savings they can make in the budget process. There are no savings in the current plan and we will not see any realized savings because the numbers don't add up. Expenses exceed revenues and will continue to do so when you base a budget on a fictitious sale for 12 million. There is no contract for sale and no guarantee that the bed licenses will be sold for that number. The private market will not buy something unless there are guarantees given. The taxpayers will see this asset returned to back to the county when the money runs out.
Michael N. Hull December 04, 2012 at 04:56 PM
Schoenberger requested an analysis of how much County roads "cost” and how much would be "saved" if the roads were no longer County roads. 'Cost' refers to what we the taxpayers pay. 'Saved' refers to what Schoenberger avoids when he gets someone else to send the taxpayer his bill. Whoever he gets to send out the bills the taxpayers pay for what he wants. That is Houdini management. Sparaco apparently can't run a tanning salon yet he is given a part time job in Clarkstown's Highway Department for $75,000 per year while 260 other applicants from the County, who were not politically connected, were rejected for a job they thought would pay $20 to $25 per hour. Sparaco was given nearly $58 per hour. That is Ponzi management. Senior citizens will get 1.7% increase in social security. Do the 'leeches on the public purse' realize that their 18% tax increase practically wipes out every senior citizen's increase in SS? Where is their morality? They make up mythical financial numbers that say they can pay for a bloated work force and sign agreements to give them permanent employment. Where is the contract with seniors? I am tired of Schoenberger putting his hands in my pockets and I am tired of Sparaco living off my social security. I hope all of you commenting here will come to the Legislature meeting tonight and start a new American Revolution. We need to take our government back from the Houdinis and the Ponzis
Michael Yularen December 04, 2012 at 05:22 PM
So the issues dont matter his voting record doesnt matter all that matters to you is he was offered a job and took it. Your personal attacks are childish and you are blinded by your conspiracy theories. I am in the independence party and yes i do support sparaco but Your statemnts have no facts. His mother in law won an election to become a state cmtee woman then won an election to become chairperson, he didnt single hand-idly make her anything. also she was prosecuted for petitions that she carried well before she was ever chairperson ( for less than 6 months). which by the way was a huge travesty of justice. A witch-hunt to punish sparaco for having the audacity to challenge zebrowski and almost win by the way. This will be the last time i respond to you because unfortunately your proving to be a close minded buffoon blinded by your jealousy. You remind me of those people in jones town that just couldnt see the truth. and if working for the taxpayer excludes you from running for office thered be no one left all cops teachers firemen and so on would be not qualified in your mind.
Watchdog December 04, 2012 at 05:33 PM
Michael, JEALOUS of Sparaco? You must be kidding. This guy changed his spots so many times for his own personal enrichment it is disgusting. Since when does a so-called Republican, support a democrat? You are blinded...by what I do not know but Sparaco is no Einstein and he proved that with his failed gum ball operation as well as his tanning business. He is not to be trusted. PERIOD.
Siobhan December 04, 2012 at 06:32 PM
Michael Yularen: You say: "all that matters to you is he was offered a job and took it." No, what I heard was Ballard was ordered to give him the job because he needed it. " I am in the independence party and yes i do support sparaco but Your statements have no facts." I got those facts right! "His mother in law was prosecuted .....a huge travesty of justice. A witch-hunt to punish sparaco for having the audacity to challenge zebrowski." Now who has a "conspiracy theory"? "Witch-hunt?" The jury listened, guilty it said, jail said the judge. His motherinlaw is a convicted criminal. Keep it simple, Michael. "This will be the last time i respond to you because unfortunately your proving to be a close minded buffoon blinded by your jealousy." Ok. If that was your defense of Sparaco, his motherinlaw, his tanning salon business, and his patronage job then I will keep my mind closed and my 'jealousy' intact.
paul meehan December 04, 2012 at 06:43 PM
im glad that the mosquito control program is still in place.....at least i wont have to deal with mosquitos while i sleep in a park somewhere because i cant afford to pay my taxes and they take my house. To say we’re not doing anything about the deficit is not true, it’s not accurate,” he said. “Were moving and we’re fighting and we’re trying to reduce the county deficit, said Schoenberger. You are doing nothing to reign in the deficit other than tax us out the you know what. We dont have a tax problem we have a spending problem.
Michael N. Hull December 04, 2012 at 07:19 PM
Mr Yularen: The facts about Sparaco's mother-in-law are ... a) Clarkstown Attorney Coopersmith conducted the Town's tax cert matters. She was Chair of the Independence Party. She controlled the election line. Gromack ran on it. b) Coopersmith was ousted by Ortutay. Ortutay then controlled the Independence Party. c) Ortutay is Sparaco's mother-in-law. Sparaco is believed to be a protege of Republican Chairman, Reda. d) Ortutay resigned and served a prison sentence for perjury and fraud. http://www.rocklandtimes.com/2012/03/01/former-independence-party-chairwoman-sentenced-to-jail-time/ e) Ortutay was represented by Bronx GOP Chairman Savino, known to Sparaco, and Reda. Savino is in line to be Reda's successor. http://www.rocklandtimes.com/2012/05/17/repub-rebels-launch-assault-on-reda/ f) Savino got a patronage job doing Coopersmith's tax certiorari work in Clarkstown after Gromack allowed Coopersmith's contract to expire and then outsourced her work to Savino for $87,000 saying it was part of "consolidation". Councilwoman Hausner said Savino came with "baggage". g) Sparaco got a patronage job in Clarkstown answering the telephone for $75,000 part-time ($58 per hour) for Wayne Ballard. 260 applicants were rejected. http://www.lohud.com/article/20120823/OPINION/308230035/Editorial-Clarkstown-puts-political-clout-before-all-else-hiring-Frank-Sparaco I say it is incestuous! And people wonder why taxes are going up?
JM December 04, 2012 at 08:14 PM
Democrats get union money to run for office. Democrats use that money to win that office. Democrats use that office to "negotiate" contracts with the unions. Can you say conflict of interest? Taxpayers never seem to be at the table. Don't tell us that county workers have families to. (too) We all understand that. Everyone is feeling pain. County workers don't get exception to that pain. And no...I don't think it's only Democrats fault that we find ourselves in this condition. But bottom line is...Government is too big in Washington, Albany, New City and Orangetown.
Defender December 04, 2012 at 09:59 PM
Schoenberger wants to "fix" the problems by becoming executive? He is the problem, the only way to fix it is to keep him away from the budgeting process, not just switch him to another position of budgetary control.
d mitchell December 04, 2012 at 11:09 PM
If all land owners had to pay taxes Rockland county would have a cash surplus I'm talking about the block
Pat Godfrey December 04, 2012 at 11:16 PM
The budget is over 700 million dollars. On top of that the legislature is borrowing money. it is still not enough. We don't have an income problem, we have a spending problem. They are spending money that our children will have to pay back and they don't care. As long as they get what they want we can go to bankruptcy. They don't care.
Laborers Local 754 December 05, 2012 at 12:30 AM
All the comments here have merit. What Rockland needs is fresh,new and progressive leadership with a balanced approach. Suffern Mayor Dagan Lacorte will provide this leadership. Take the time to see what he has to offer. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LIi_ttZpK7k&feature=share
maybe if they eliminate the mosquito control programs the net result would be less politicians!!!!.ban mouse traps..what a solution!!!!
Pat Godfrey December 05, 2012 at 02:40 AM
There is nothing I want with the word progressive (it's another word for liberalism). It means bigger government and ours is big enough. No more balanced approach. Time to cut the size of government.
Mark Walker December 05, 2012 at 03:45 AM
Vote these folks out of office, professional politicians can't make hard decisions! 18 percent increase! And this is the Budget and Finance Committee?! You have to make cuts! Since they don't know how to make cuts, let's elect new county legislators who can. Time to clean house.....I hope that none of these jokers are considering running for County Executive. Their worst nightmare would be waking up the apathetic voter. An 18% increase will do it.
Mark Walker December 05, 2012 at 03:46 AM
Well said Pat. They need to be voted out.
Mark Walker December 05, 2012 at 03:55 AM
"no layoffs for budgetary reasons?" So the County of Rockland guarantees employment? Since when? Why have a budget if you are guaranteeing jobs? And the Chairman of the Budget and Finance Committee is running for County Executive? We need fresh blood in Rockland County. Time to form an adhoc search committee.
Observer December 05, 2012 at 03:33 PM
from d mitchell "If all land owners had to pay taxes Rockland county would have a cash surplus I'm talking about the block". I think we all know what this is referring to and I completely agree with d. balancing the budget needs to start at fair and balanced accountability of finances -- or maybe we all need to convert (NOT happening!!)
Laborers Local 754 December 12, 2012 at 05:51 PM
Mr. or Ms. Godfrey, Progressive does not mean Liberalism. It means reforming government to work efficiently and fiscally responsible. Balancing the approach is the key. Focusing the resources of government where they are most needed and executing that focus is what progressive is all about. Party politics have become a roadblock to good efficient government.
Pat Godfrey December 13, 2012 at 01:30 AM
Local 754. It's Mr. Progressive party started by Theodore Roosevelt in 1912 platforms were the 1st federal income tax, farm subsidies, a federal securities commision (regulate banks and money), the inheritance tax. These are now law and have increased the power and money flowing into the federal government. Back then when he introduced them they were radical. Now you may have changed the party I don't know what they do now accept still grow government nationally. Maybe your different. Here is what I do know, there is no and has never been a government that is run "efficiently". The only thing that the government does real well is the military. Everything else is inefficient and the only way to make it more efficient is to cut the size of it. The bigger it gets the more wasteful it gets.
Laborers Local 754 December 13, 2012 at 01:47 AM
Mr. Godfrey, then lets take the pieces we need and make them more efficient and use them to build a floor by where private enterprise and individuals can build up from. The floor has to be strong and maintained . Pres. Roosevelt envisioned that when he corrected the wrongs in society. We must all work together and find the "American" standard . Then government can get out of the way and let the free market and individual freedom roll.


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