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$761 Million Budget Increases Expected Sales Tax Revenue

County Executive Elect casts symbolic “No” vote against budget and 9.9 percent tax increase.

Legislator and County Executive Elect Ed Day explained his "no" vote.
Legislator and County Executive Elect Ed Day explained his "no" vote.

Rockland County Legislators passed an amended $761 million budget for 2014 by an 11 to 6 vote. The budget total and tax increase of 9.9 percent are the same as the proposed spending plan submitted by County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef in October but numerous revenues and expenditures were adjusted, some to comply with the state comptroller’s recommendations. They also voted to override the two percent property tax cap by 13 to 4. 

County Executive Elect Ed Day (R-New City/Pomona) was among those who voted against the amended budget. He said his was a symbolic “No vote” because he believes the 9.9 percent tax increase, which was included in both budgets, is unfair to taxpayers. He also said his 10 percent salary cut was symbolic. 

“But it does give people the sense of where I’m coming from,” he said.

Other legislators insisted that a “No vote” was one in favor of a budget that did not fulfill the recommendations of the state comptroller’s office and could jeopardize the $96 million deficit reduction bond authorization signed by the governor last month. 

“A yes vote will follow that letter (from the comptroller) and allow us to get that bond,” said Legislator Jay Hood (D-Haverstraw). 

Budget & Finance Committee Chairman Michael Grant (D-Garnerville) said the amended budget increased the amount of expected sales tax revenue from $177 million to $180 million based on a forecast from the county’s accounting consultant, which estimated the county could realize up to $180.5 million in 2014.  He described the committee’s process in reviewing and revising the budget and the steps it took to meet the comptroller’s recommendations.

The comptroller determined the county did not need to set aside funds in 2014 to begin paying off the budget deficit because the $96 million bond would meet that obligation. In 2015, the county will have to set aside money to pay down the deficit, which is estimated to reach $140 million this year. 

The committee lowered the amount of residential energy tax revenue by $5.2 million. It reduced the revenue estimate for bon premiums by $750,000 and put $3 million from tax certiorari borrowing in a separate fund to pay down future obligations. The committee also created a tax overlay account of $1 million to cover unpaid taxes. 

The 2014 budget reflects a salary reduction of $15,509 for the county executive’s position, which Day had requested, and a cut in the salary of the director of real property services of $20,900. A similar request to cut the salary of the county clerk by 10 percent was rejected for several reasons one being it is a revenue-generating department brings in more money than it costs to operate. 

The amended eliminated new positions for a savings of $297,597, abolished vacant positions saving $66,610 and cut a legislative post saving $66,610. Reductions were made for utilities, office supplies, printed materials, operational supplies and postage amounting to $615,760.

Legislator Joe Meyers (D-Airmont), who voted against the budget, said, “I don’t think this budget balances.” 

He predicted the budget will be off by several million dollars and said legislators need to make harder decisions in order to start paying down the deficit in 2015. Legislator Aron Wieder (D-Spring Valley) said his vote against the budget was a vote against Albany and the unfunded mandates it has imposed.

Legislator Alden Wolfe (D-Suffern) gave a different opinion and said the budget reconciles every single variance identified by the outside auditor and closes all the holes that existed in the county executive’s proposed budget.

He described it as a “100 percent balanced budget for 2014.” 

Related articles-------

State Comptroller: 2014 Proposed County Budget Needs Revision

Multimillion-Dollar Shortfalls in Proposed County Budget


John Frankel December 05, 2013 at 11:48 PM
What's symbolic of voting no when you know that it will pass regardless. He would have been a hero if he would presented a budget with no or minimal tax increase and have the legislator vote on his budget. Its amazing to read the debate about a few positions and minor salary cuts and ignoring all the waste of historical poorly run government year after year. There was no accountability till now and it doesn't look to promising moving forward. I sat in by a few of the budget hearing it was laughable to hear the questions that was asked and how it was all bought for face value. Non of the legislators had any interest in really challenging any of the dysfunctional county departments. Millions of taxpayers money is wasted and all that could be done is a symbolic vote what a shame.
lucille December 06, 2013 at 08:47 AM
What happens next year? The year after? While they were raising taxes did they consider that we have school tax increases too? What about foreclosures and jobs lost by people who are trying to just survive. And the tax base shrinks... Look at Detroit.. Look at Illinois now.. The saving grace is thank God the court has common sense to make bankruptcy laws trump contracts and ridiculous perks and promises. The people who signed and promised all this stuff and goodies need to be held accountable. Instead the taxpayers are punished. Eventually they will all devour each other and fight over $$ that won't be there.
Watchdog December 06, 2013 at 09:32 AM
They balanced the budget by raising sales tax revenues estimate....repeating the garbage they did in past years. This is not a balanced budget. It us a budget full of garbage revenues.
Pat Godfrey December 06, 2013 at 10:04 AM
They raised it 9.9%. I guess the reason for that is it sounds better than 10%.
Chuck Borgman December 06, 2013 at 02:04 PM
THey supposedly took out $9MM in revenues but they only reduced expenses by maybe $1MM. THey raised the sales tax revenue $3MM. How is this budget balanced with same tax increase? Where's the other $5MM in revenue coming from?
Andrew Wiley December 06, 2013 at 02:53 PM
Continue to mislead the public with the state comptroller required you to vote this way so that Rockland could receive the bond for deficit reduction. In less than a few years from now Rockland will be in need of another bond. A majority of our leaders are selling our future for their political incumbency.
Nyack 51 December 07, 2013 at 08:01 AM
The last time I looked, County Government was the largest employer in the County, what is wrong with this picture
Mark Walker December 08, 2013 at 12:47 PM
We need a County Legislature that will make difficult decisions and important cuts to the expense side of the budget. We need to support smart people with excellent financial experience to run, not politicians who are catering to special interest groups.
Mark Walker December 08, 2013 at 12:49 PM
These special interest groups are well organized and bring out the vote. We need to do the same. The Preserve Rockland Party is a start. We need to recruit more individuals to support this cause and to understand the importance of voting in local elections. If you don't vote, you have nothing to complain about.
Pat Godfrey December 08, 2013 at 02:12 PM
Yes Mark. Right now Preserve Rockland is our only option to reduce our taxes and the deficit spending that keeps happening year after year. The Democrat and Republican and Conservtive parties in Rockland are in cooperation with each other so to make sure they spend the taxpayer money. If they overspend the available money, well then they raise taxes and borrow to cover it. That has what been happening for a number of years. This year alone the county legislature has overspent 140 million on a 760 million budget. They are almost 15% over budget yet they don't even make an attempt to reduce it. A staggering unbelievable number. The state had to lend us 96 million (which we have to pay back with interest) and they raised taxes 10% to cover for this year. What will happen next year? Another tax increase. That is where we are. Right now the only option for the Rockland voter who wants to stop this massive overspending of our children's money (they are putting the next generation in debt also) is Preserve Rockland.
Lilly December 11, 2013 at 12:37 AM
Voting no is easy. Finding solutions or offering alternatives is not. After all these years of voting no, you'd think ed day would at least challenge the other legislators. He's had years to do it.
Charles Clewsow December 11, 2013 at 11:45 AM
Lily are you a newcomer to the County or have you just failed to notice all the times Ed Day has not only challenged but WARNED TAXPAYERS of the impending disaster that is now Rockland County under the democratic leadership of Cornell and Schoenberger. Thankfully taxpayers and voters have seen the light and elected Ed Day.
Charles Clewsow December 11, 2013 at 12:01 PM
Lily do you remember when Ed Day challenged both Vanderhoef and Schoeberger and the Legislators for endorsing budgets for two years in a row that included Millions in income from Red Light Cameras when Rockland did not have nor could Rockland have Red Light Cameras since you need a population of 1 million or more????

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