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Tax Hike, Job Cuts in 2013 Budget (VIDEO)

Rockland County Executive releases 2013 proposed budget with elimination of 70 jobs, 55 early retirements and county property tax increase

 

Rockland County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef released his proposed 2013 budget on Tuesday, which cuts 70 positions through program eliminations, offers early retirement incentives to another 55 workers and increases county property taxes by an average of $157. Vanderhoef said the tax increase was the only fee increase and that it and the staff reductions were driven by the need to meet an additional $33 million in state mandated costs.

“There are no other fee increases in this budget,” said Vanderhoef. “There are no increases other than a property tax increase.” 

Vanderhoef explained the property tax increase will raise about $15 million, which is less than half of the new state mandated costs. The added costs include $16.7 for pensions, $5.6 million for 14 new officers at the jail, $2.65 million for Medicaid and about $8 million for early intervention, pre-k and probation.

“There will be about 70 positions removed from Rockland County government as a result,” said Vanderhoef.

He said the rest of the needed funds came from shifting, innovation and cutting expenses. Most contract agencies’ funding remains at the 2012 level, however, some small arts and cultural organizations were removed completely from the budget. Department budgets remained flat or decreased.

“We’ve added only one position to the budget (in the) Veteran’s Agency,” he said, adding that was for a counselor.

Vanderhoef detailed some of the budget reductions.  He proposed outsourcing the laundry and radiology services at Summit Park, security at county buildings and food services at the jail and eliminating the respective employee positions. Vanderhoef said moving security to an outside vendor would save $1 million and doing the same with food services would save $350,000. 

Closing the employee pharmacy would save $2 million and eliminating six highway department positions would save $350,000.  Other positions targeted for elimination were in corrections and the Sheriff’s patrol. The county would spend $750,000 less by ending the Sheriff’s Mounted Patrol and by no longer funding the Narcotics Task Force and Intel Unit it would save $1.5 million.  Another $3 million in saving would be realized if 55 employees opt for early retirement at the end of 2012. 

Vanderhoef said the county is taking away programs not positions and he thought it adhered to the contract provisions signed with CSEA and the other unions.

“I’m sure CSEA will have something to say,” said Vanderhoef. “We’re in a position where we can’t keep taxing the residents.”

CSEA President P.T. Thomas said the proposed budget violated the contract and the union would be prepared to take all necessary steps to fight it even taking legal action

Vanderhoef said if his recommendation to the legislature to create a Local Development Corporation for the sale of Summit Park is passed, the county could receive money to begin paying off its estimated $96 million deficit.  He said it is possible the LDC would make a $12 million prepayment to the county in anticipation of the sale of Summit Park.  He asserted that funds would be applied to deficit reduction only and would not be used to offset operating expenses. 

The proposed budget was submitted to the legislature Tuesday afternoon and its Budget & Finance Committee meets at 7 p.m. tonight to discuss it.  The legislature already scheduled a Nov. 20 public hearing on the county budget, which must be finalized by Dec. 7.

Brian Goudie October 24, 2012 at 01:27 PM
They are only eliminating ONE job!!?? Are you kidding me!!?? They should be eliminating at least TEN jobs. This is outrageous.
Kevin Roy October 24, 2012 at 01:40 PM
Since 2006, the County Tax has increased 74.8% while the value of my home has declined 15%. Look at your tax bills. The rate per $1000 of assessed value went from 3.99158 to 6.978614. If this trend continues, we'll all be taxed out of our homes.
Pat Godfrey October 24, 2012 at 01:52 PM
Tax raise again. In the private sector when you have cost over runs or run out of budget you make cuts to get under budget. In Rockland Government what you do is raise taxes on the residents. There is no end to this because they will be over budget again next year. Why? The problem isn't revenue (last year the budget was $717 million dollars). The problem is spending. They are spending money we don't have knowing next year what they will do is raise taxes again. The biggest expense is the government employee salaries and benefits. Till they take that on they will always be over budget. which means more taxes for everyone else.
Robin Traum (Editor) October 24, 2012 at 01:55 PM
Brian: The county executive proposed elimination of 70 positions and the adidition of one in Veterans Sevices. If the legislature approves, the 70 positions would be cut in the Sheriff's Department which does not have the same contract provisions as the CSEA, and the highway department and through the outsourcing of several different services. Robin
DJR October 24, 2012 at 02:43 PM
Read through the article again, Pat. They have made a good effort, in my opinion, to cut taxes, but that will not apease many either. We can't have it both ways, I think this is probably as good as it gets - savings were achieved, but some increases needed to be made as well. What worries me more are the benefits that public employees are getting (and sometimes taking for granted), that will likely trigger future tax increases. Here, we need to put a break on. Public employees cannot get benefit that in many cases are more generous than what we get in the private sector. It's the tax payers (aka property owners) who foot the bill!
Robin Traum (Editor) October 24, 2012 at 04:11 PM
Kevin - Although property values have fallen, the county executive said the county property tax rate has decreased from $2.63 per $1,000 of assessed value in 1993 to $2.51. Robin
Robin Traum (Editor) October 24, 2012 at 04:20 PM
Here is some additional information from the county finance department. The savings from the proposed net elimination of 69 positions will save the county approximately $4 million in 2013. Rockland currently employs 2,212 workers and the net cut of 69 positions represents a 5.6 percent reduction in the overall workforce. Robin
joe martino October 24, 2012 at 04:30 PM
We have a choice come the next round of local elections. Vote these bums out of office. Why we dont have term limits is beyond me. Career politicians must go
Kevin Roy October 24, 2012 at 04:44 PM
Robin, his comment is misleading. In 1993, the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index for New York metro area was 76.80. In July, the index value was 163.04. This means that home prices have increased 112.3% since he took office. So, while the rate per $1000 has declined, the total assesed value for the county has more than doubled. Regardless, my comment was about the increase in the last six years. How does he explain that?
Joe Ciardullo October 24, 2012 at 04:48 PM
DJR and All, I wanted to inform you of a meeting this upcoming Monday. The Clarkstown Taxpayers have arranged for two excellent guest speakers to address the group. - EJ McMahon, Senior Fellow, Empire Center for Policy Research - Tim Hoefer, Director, Empire Center for Policy Research They will be discussing important issues concerning the finances of New York State and how they impact our local taxes. They will provide information as to what you, as a taxpayer, can do to help transform Albany, our county and towns into a place that is once again affordable. If you attend one meeting this year, this is it. Our elected officials have been invited to listen as well. When : Monday, October 29th 7:00PM Where : New City Library, 220 North Main Street New City, NY 10956 (845) 634-4997 Cost: Free (the information learned can save you money) Sponsored by the Clarkstown Taxpayers We're watching how they spend your money! Please feel free to forward this to any of your friends and family that would like to attend.
Mary October 24, 2012 at 04:51 PM
In August there was a state mandate that the Sheriff's department had to HIRE 15 more officers for corrections.... http://newcity.patch.com/articles/legislature-to-vote-on-mandated-positions-for-sheriff-s-office Now, they have to eliminate positions? Why is law enforcement being targeted? Who were the new hires? Maybe we should eliminate the Department of Tourism...how much would that save?
Kevin Roy October 24, 2012 at 06:02 PM
One more thought. Another way to think about his statement is that the cost per a $1000 has declined 4.7% vs. assessed values more than doubling. To me, that's embarassing. I wouldn't share or highlight that fact in a meeting with my bosses.
West Nyack October 24, 2012 at 08:12 PM
I believe the state mandated jobs are at the county jail and are not being cut. I'm glad to finally see the the Sheriffs Patrol who have little or no policing responsibility are finally being cut. Theres a lot more waste that can go there.
stephany October 25, 2012 at 10:32 PM
"Rockland currently employs 2,212" yikes. I wonder how many of those are management making too too much

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