Under Rockland County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef’s proposed 2013 budget, 70 positions would be eliminated across several county departments along with non-mandated health programs. Other cost saving measures in the $736.9 million spending plan are an early retirement incentive for 55 employees and closing the employee pharmacy. The proposal carries an average $157 yearly property tax increase for taxpayers, a jump of 18.4 percent in county taxes.
At Tuesday’s budget introduction, Vanderhoef addressed the 70 positions dropped from the 2013 proposed budget, explaining they were part of program eliminations not layoffs. The contract the county signed with the CSEA and two other unions earlier this year bars any union member layoffs through December 31, 2013.
“It’s not a position layoff, it’s a program elimination,” said Vanderhoef.
CSEA President P.T. Thomas disagreed with Vanderhoef's conclusion and said it was a violation of the contract. He estimated that about 55 CSEA jobs were in jeopardy.
"We have a no layoff guarantee," said Thomas. "We will fight (this budget) tooth and nail."
Specific positions slated for removal were the Sheriff’s Mounted Unit and five Sheriff’s Patrol officers. Programs identified for elimination were laundry services and radiology services at Summit Park, security for county buildings and food services at the county jail. Instead of county employees performing the work, Vanderhoef is recommending that the programs be outsourced at a lower cost to the county. Additionally he proposed doing away with the county mosquito program and some health education programs. The pre-natal clinic is already being transitioned from the county health department to Nyack Hospital.
Vanderhoef said an increase of $33 million in 2013 state mandated costs primarily for pensions; the jail and Medicaid were responsible for the county having to raise taxes and cut services and jobs. The mandated cost of pensions is rising by $16.7 million, jail expenses by $5.6 million and Medicaid by $2.65 million in 2013.
Editor’s Note: Check back with Patch for an expanded budget article.