Rockland County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef’s proposed of $701.8 million calls for layoffs of 544 county employees.
The proposed budget raises taxes by the two percent allowed by the state property tax cap. The need for cutbacks comes on the heels of rising costs for state mandated programs.
Vanderhoef described the spending plan as “fiscally responsible.” Under the proposed budget, county employees would be laid off in three waves:
- 42 would lose jobs at the end of January
- 49 would be laid off as of April
- 453 would be let go as of August 1
Vanderhoef, who outlined his plan to the media, prior to meeting with legislative leaders this afternoon, said the public can view the proposed 313-page budget, which will be available online either tonight or Tuesday.
Programs facing possible elimination include the prenatal and chronic care programs and the Sheriff’s Department’s transport unit which would be replaced by sheriff’s patrol officers. The largest number of layoffs would come from the Summit Park Nursing Home, which would be “defunded.”
“It’s not a pretty budget,” said Vanderhoef. “To me it’s personally upsetting.”
If the county’s unions do not come forward with concessions, Vanderhoef predicted there could be further layoffs of 140 or more employees.
He recommended several additional revenue sources:
- A one-time approximate $160 surcharge on county tax bills for homeowners
- Transfer fee of $2 per $500 of value for people selling their homes
- Hotel/Motel tax of three percent
- Sale of two county buildings
- Raise mortgage tax by one-quarter percent
- Institute fees for civil service exams
- Charge towns and villages for their share of election costs
- Impose a wireless surcharge for 911 of 30 cents per month
Contract agencies’ funding would be cut by 50 percent. Agencies would experience funding reductions of up to 50 percent with the exception of People to People.
In his statement Vanderhoef noted, “because so many people are struggling financially,” he recommended a slight increase in People to People’s funding. The organization provides food for needy residents.
The county Narcotics Task Force and BCI would remain operational but towns and villages would not be reimbursed for their personnel costs. The county’s expense for those two units is $3 million; the towns and villages share is $2.7 million.
The county executive said a memo had gone out to all county employees today. He wrote, “We remain hopeful that once the Legislature and the unions review the proposed budget and begin to comprehend the scope of he challenges we are facing, they will finally work with us to lessen the impact on Rockland Government operations.”
Vanderhoef explained it took five years for the deficit to reach its current level and his proposal would put the county on a path to eliminate it within five years unless the state acts sooner and provides mandate relief. The state requires the county provide nine mandated programs. Costs for state mandated programs including Medicare are increasing more than will be covered by the allowable two percent property tax increase.
The legislature must pass a final budget by December 7.