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Legislators Move Layoff Talks to Next Week

About 150 positions are expected to be abolished but not all have been identified

The  County Legislature began work Tuesday night on the employee layoffs portion of R. Vanderhoef initially called for the layoff of 150 county workers resulting in a salary savings of $8.8 million. However, unemployment benefits would reduce that figure by $2.1 million. 

The list of 150 positions was created through meetings between the county executive's office and the heads of various departments, who were to suggest what positions to cut.

While the legislature voted on many of Vanderhoef's proposals at Tuesday night's emergency meeting, they voted to push back their decision on the layoffs until next week's meeting. There were a few reasons for pushing it back, one being that the legislature didn’t get the list of positions to be cut until about 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, just an hour and a half before the meeting, according to Chairwoman of the Legislature Harriet Cornell. Another reason was because the legislators wanted more time to go over the positions being cut and because some didn’t think the list presented Tuesday night was a finalized list.

One page presented Tuesday night, and handed out to the public, called for the removal of 47 “vacancy release positions,” or empty positions that have not been filled, from the 2012 budget. A second three-page document included 87 positions slated for  elimination at an approximate savings of $6.2 million. Those combined total of those positions is 134, not the 150 Vanderhoef proposed.

Cornell asked Stephen DeGroat, Rockland's acting commissioner of finance, to have the complete list to the legislators by Friday so they will have enough time to go through it before the next meeting.

The positions, which are ones that are open and unfilled, are supposed to reduce the deficit by $2,575,392. However, that number isn’t a definite and will most likely change slightly in the newer list, according to DeGroat. He also said the goal for the final list is still to have 150 layoffs. The lists are provided as attached PDF files.

Officials of the CSEA, which represents most of the unionized county employees, claimed political patronage jobs escaped the proposed cuts.

“It’s bad enough that people are being laid off through no fault of their own, but it adds insult to injury to see that county department heads are sparing political appointees and other friends while making almost all of their cuts in the unionized workforce,” said CSEA Southern Region President Billy Riccaldo. “Once again, the little guy suffers while the higher ups are spared.”

Riccaldo said cuts should be throughout different levels of departments. He singled out the Department of Mental Health but said all departments will not function properly if the list is not revised.

“What’s particularly outrageous is that Department of Mental Health Commissioner MaryAnn Walsh-Tozer is retaliating against CSEA members in her department by targeting for layoff certain case management  workers who have been outspoken at county budget hearings,” Riccaldo continued. “Mental Health is actually a revenue source for the county, but the workers who bring in that revenue are being punished because they vigorously defended the services they provide while highlighting Commissioner Walsh-Tozer’s mismanagement of their department. It’s disgusting that department heads that have played a large part in the  county’s budget problems remain untouched when the people actually serving the residents of this county may lose their jobs.”

CSEA Rockland County Unit President P.T. Thomas argued the county cannot afford to reduce services further. He said Vanderhoef did not live up to his word that layoffs would be done across the board.

“That promise has been broken,” said Thomas. “By cutting workers who are responsible for collecting so much revenue, these layoffs will actually worsen the county’s financial situation. The commissioners should be ashamed of the disrespectful treatment they’ve afforded the rank-and-file county workforce.”

Thomas included State Senator David Carlucci in his criticism.

“It’s important to remember that had Senator David Carlucci been upfront about his opposition to Rockland’s need for home rule legislation in Albany instead of dancing around the issue for months, there would have been more time to come up with alternate budgetary solutions,” Thomas added. 

Michael N. Hull May 31, 2012 at 12:06 PM
<<<Officials of the CSEA, which represents most of the unionized county employees, claimed political patronage jobs escaped the proposed cuts.  “It’s bad enough that people are being laid off through no fault of their own, but it adds insult to injury to see that county department heads are sparing political appointees and other friends while making almost all of their cuts in the unionized workforce,” said CSEA Southern Region President Billy Riccaldo. “Once again, the little guy suffers while the higher ups are spared.”>>> Billy: I confess to not being a past fan of yours .... http://newcity.patch.com/d/blog_posts/cut-to-the-bone-or-cut-the-gordian-knot  .... but I do agree that the patronage jobs are not even the last to go, they never go!  However, if you really want to make a difference and help those of us who wish to support your position on this particular matter you should publish a list of positions, and the names of the people holding those positions, that you suggest could be eliminated in the present round of cuts.   Just the names and the positions is all the information that is needed. I invite you to post them here.    Complaining about 'insult to injury' adds 'insult to injury' if you haven't got the courage to publish a proposed list of positions that you would cut and which provides the same cost savings as proposed by Vanderhoef. 
George C May 31, 2012 at 12:10 PM
It makes no sense to have a layoff number of 150, when you need to close a specific budget gap amount. The 150 number must be a ploy to get the unions to give back more than 18 million.
Cal Mendelsohn May 31, 2012 at 12:14 PM
Maybe someone could help me out on this. I'm confused about one point in this article.The article states "The positions, which are ones that are open and unfilled, are supposed to reduce the deficit by $2,575,392." So, just how do we save anything on positions that are UNFILLED, not costing anybody anything, therefore not a real labor expense right now. This seems like an exercise in mathemartical gymnastics and semantics also. Where are the savings Here?
Robin Traum (Editor) May 31, 2012 at 12:33 PM
Cal You are correct that no money is spent if the positions are vacant so it's not an actual reduction of expenses. But the positions are included in the budget and the legislative action would likely remove them from that spending plan.
Helene Feigelman May 31, 2012 at 01:41 PM
The answer is that if the powers that be could control themselves and not spend money like it was water, these people could retain there jobs. Perhaps some should not take a 17% increase after budgets were set. I give up on this county and town.
Matt Foley May 31, 2012 at 03:07 PM
Only three positions from the Sheriff's Department? (1 Lt, 2 Deputies) And all are reductions by attrition, no layoffs. When are the County politicians going to realize that the majority of that department is a duplication of service and it doesn't need to be as big of a kingdom that Kralik and now Falco have created? Want to save a big chunk of money? Start there. Other larger County PDs are down between 10 and 20 positions each, again by attrition, but its still a start on savings as the positions aren't being filled. Its time for this joke of an agency to come back to reality.
George C May 31, 2012 at 06:36 PM
In 2011, there were 1948 people on the county payroll, for a salary total of $122,638,000. Of that, 270 make over 100k. Seems to me if everyone agreed to a 10% pay cut and add the copay and healthcare contribution, there would be no layoffs.
jrod May 31, 2012 at 09:30 PM
Michael....do you know haow many times our CSEA has asked for a list of appointed positions? They're denied every time. Additionally, I invite all citizens to do their own homework. The county budget is available online. It's easy to find the administrators..most of whom are appointees as well. as an example - look at the execs budget and management dept. - theyre responsible for this mess. Look at their salaries.Do NOT blame the CSEA for not having the courage. Do your own research if you care about where your tax dollars go. Newsday even has a link on their website with all coutny positions salaries names and start dates. Show up at the meetings. We do. You would not believe what goes on. It's not up to CSEA to fix this governmental corruption - it's up to US....the residents and taxpayers. Those that have tried got punished.
jrod May 31, 2012 at 09:34 PM
It's an exercise in semantics - just like the county budget for the past several years. The list is wrong. and some of those positions dont even exist. The list was made by our County Exec. Does it surprise you that it makes no sense? The lay offs will NOT save money. Theyre trying to save face with Moddy's because theyre one step away from junk bond status and a state takeover. We need MAJOR changes within our county gov. Layoffs will NOT change that.
jrod May 31, 2012 at 09:36 PM
The employees being laid off have not taken an increase in years. and the lay off list has TWO PARTS. The first page are vacancies to be abolished - the second and third are actual positions with people in them set to lose their jobs on July 31st.
jrod May 31, 2012 at 09:39 PM
BTW - The positions that Falco volunteered for lay offs are being picked up by the Spring Valley Police Dept. so they will all still have jobs. One is also a retiree who will walk away with a very nice benefit package. Did you really think cops would be laid off? People should be coming to that Legislator meeting and screaming. But nobody does. Those who do - take a hit.
jrod May 31, 2012 at 09:46 PM
You are right George. Or maybe the Legislatures and exec should get rid of their pharmacy. That is NOT and NEVER WAS a CSEA concession or a contractual issue. Our government created it - at a cost of 3 million a year. Why isnt it on the execs list for cutting costs? The employees do agree to pay for health insurance. Many of them already do. But the CSEA cant get the exec to agree to saving money in other ways to avoid lay offs - so the negotiations are stalled. CSEA also offered furloughs. Take a look at the county budget online. Look at the execs budget management salaries. All 6 figures. Appointees by the exec. Our budget has been a mess for years. Yet the county hired auditors. Why aren't these people on the lay off list?
GWashington May 31, 2012 at 11:09 PM
Sounds like "jobs created or saved." Double-speak.
Suzanne June 02, 2012 at 03:11 AM
Rockland County residents need to really look at what is happening here - we know the county is in a financial mess and county employees who have spoken up at legislative meetings are now the first TARGETED for layoff and on the list - ALL of Department of Mental Health Case Management Unit are being targeted by the Mental Health Commissioner MaryAnn Walsh-Tozer is RETAILIATING. Case Management Unit is a revenue source for the county, but the workers who bring in that revenue are being punished because they defended the services they provide while highlighting mismanagement of their department. It is disgusting management are not held accountable for being responsible for mismanagement and budget mess and that they will remain.
missy June 05, 2012 at 01:49 AM
If administration would take a paycut and stop hiring useless (political) people who dont work and yet collect paychecks,maybe that would be a start in recouping some money.The little guys need to stay..they are the worker bees and the excess of supervisors, coordinators, etc neeed to be weeded through and many of them abolished.

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