After Rockland County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef announced Wednesday afternoon that he vetoed most of amendments in the 2013 budget that passed in the legislature last week, that gave legislators until Dec. 20 to vote on whether or not to override his vetoes.
Twelve of the 17 legislators must vote in favor of the veto override for it to pass. The budget passed in the legislature by a vote of 10-7 last week.
The next legislature meeting is Dec. 18, and Legislator Alden Wolfe, vice chair of the legislature, said he’s sure there will be quite a bit of discussion that night on the county executive’s veto, but he would not say for certain if the vote will take place that night. He did say, though, that he was disappointed to learn about the vetoes.
“It’s puzzling,” Wolfe said. “The choices he’s made can put the county in a very curious position for 2013.”
One major item that came up throughout the budget process so far has been the elimination of county positions. Originally in the county executive’s proposed budget, almost 70 positions were eliminated, but the legislators restored many of those. In his vetoes, Vanderhoef kept some of the positions he originally eliminated in his proposed budget, leaving the legislators' restorations of the Sheriff’s Mounted Patrol and Patrol Officers.
Many legislators said they restored the positions because of the new contract the county signed with CSEA earlier this year in which there was an agreement for no layoffs due to budgetary reasons.
“Restoration to the positions we made make the most sense because of the union contract,” Wolfe said. “Eliminating the positions could cause a tremendous financial hole for the county in 2013.”
Many legislators felt the position eliminations were for budgetary reasons and didn’t want to go against the contract. Rockland County CSEA President P.T. Thomas said he was disappointed to see some of the position eliminations come back.
“It’s quite unfortunate,” he said. “[Vanderhoef] shouldn’t have done it. It’s going to affect the morale of the workers. If the override doesn’t pass, we will take this to court.”
Thomas said he and the CSEA feel the position eliminations are also for budgetary reasons, which the new contract specifically says can’t be done.
“It’s the county executive’s last year in office and I would think he would want to go out with a legacy of trying to help people,” Thomas said.
Thomas said he really hopes two legislators will change their vote.
One legislator who voted against the budget is Nancy Low-Hogan. The county executive didn’t announce his vetoes until around 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, and Low-Hogan had an Environmental Committee meeting starting at 5 p.m., so she didn’t get much of a chance to read over Vanderhoef’s budget Wednesday night.
She said she hasn’t decided which way she’s going to vote on Tuesday, or whenever the override vote comes.
“I have to really study,” she said. “I’m going to look at everything very carefully. The legislature has a big decision coming up and I’m going to take this very seriously. I have a lot to think about before next week.”
Vanderhoef Vetoes Most of Legislature’s Budget Amendments