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Rockland County Executive Joins With Other Officials In Call For Pension Reform

Bipartisan coalition of county executives, legislative leaders and mayors start campaign to pass Gov. Cuomo’s pension reform proposal.

 

Rockland County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef joined with other county executives and mayors from across New York State in announcing the formation of a bipartisan coalition to address skyrocketing . The members of New York Leaders for Pension Reform announced Thursday they will lead a statewide campaign to ensure state legislators understand the importance to local governments of passing Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s reform plan.  The governor’s plan would get pension costs under control without reducing retirement benefits for any public employee.

“I strongly support Governor Cuomo’s pension reform legislation. Under this proposed reform, new employee contribution rates would increase, bringing much-needed relief to county governments like Rockland,” said Vanderhoef, who is one of the Coalition’s founding members. “It is vital that the state government address the huge unfunded mandate liability of pensions, which have significantly increased costs to the 62 counties of New York.”

Rockland is paying $23 million in pension costs this year compared to $17.9 in 2011.  

The Coalition noted pension costs borne by local governments increased from $1.7 billion in 2002 to $12.5 billion in 201, a jump of more than 630 percent. Coalition members pointed out how local pension payments have already significantly reduced localities’ ability to fund education, public safety, social services, economic development and other services.  They predicted if costs continue to escalate they will result in future severe budget cuts or tax increases.

Gov. Cuomo’s plan will create a new tier of pension benefits, Tier 6, for yet-to-be-hired employees who are participating in the state and New York City retirement systems. Existing employees and retirees will be unaffected. The new plan would raise the retirement age for newly hired employees, and exclude overtime from the formula used to calculate the final average salary for pension payments. Additionally, it would provide employees with the option of participating in a defined contribution plan.

Pension costs in Rockland are a significant burden on county government. But the costs trail those of Medicaid, Early Intervention and PreK and Health Care. Rockland's Medicaid costs are $73 million this year and Early Intervention and PreK is running about $50 million.

Coalition members characterized the rise in pension costs as unsustainable and something that needs to be addressed to relieve pressure on taxpayers and local services.

The 25 founding members of New York Leaders for Pension Reform are:

County Executives and Legislative Leaders

  • Rockland: County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef
  • Albany: County Executive Daniel P. McCoy
  • Dutchess: County Executive Marcus J. Molinaro
  • Erie: County Executive Mark Poloncarz
  • Genesee: Legislature Chair Mary Pat Hancock
  • Monroe: County Executive Maggie Brooks
  • Nassau: County Executive Edward P. Mangano
  • Oneida: County Executive Anthony J. Picente, Jr.
  • Onondaga: County Executive Joanne M. Mahoney
  • Orange: County Executive Edward A. Diana
  • Suffolk: County Executive Steve Bellone
  • Westchester: County Executive Robert P. Astorino
  • Wyoming: Chairman of the County of Board of Supervisors Douglas Berwanger

Mayors

  • Albany: Mayor Gerald D. Jennings
  • Hornell: Mayor Shawn Hogan
  • Jamestown: Mayor Samuel Teresi
  • New York City: Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg
  • New Rochelle: Mayor Noam Bramson
  • Ogdensburg: Mayor William D. Nelson
  • Plattsburg: Mayor Donald M. Kasprzak
  • Rochester: Mayor Thomas S. Richards
  • Syracuse: Mayor Stephanie Miner
  • Utica: Mayor Robert A. Palmieri
  • Watertown: Mayor Jeff Graham
  • White Plains: Mayor Thomas M. Roach
Jimmy February 24, 2012 at 09:05 PM
We need county executive reform and legislator reform. Lets go backbto the old system.
ADK February 24, 2012 at 09:40 PM
let me get this straight...Vanderhoef has been in office 15 years, gave jobs and raises (and therefore generous pensions) to the entire world and now he's asking for pension reform????
Maureen February 24, 2012 at 09:54 PM
In a Journal News article (February 24, 2012) entitled 'Moody's downgrades Rockland's credit rating again' Vanderhoef opines:  “This is a critical juncture, we all have to work together and row in the same direction.” Port-oars like Shoenberger are rowers who know more and more about less and less until they finally know absolutely everything about nothing. On-the-other-hand, Starboard-oars like Cornell are rowers who know less and less about more and more until they finally know absolutely nothing about everything. Amazingly, Coxswains make them a crew! The problem is that Vanderhoef is no coxswain and Moody's says that the Rockland County boat is sinking. The company uses the word “speculative” to describe the rowing efforts.  In the Corporate business world the Executive in charge of this mess would be fired as would the heads of any failing business units. That means Vanderhoef, Shoenberger  and Cornell would be gone by now. Those three can not escape the fact that it was their leadership failures that have brought this county to its knees. Row, row, row! Row this boat ashore!
Sam February 24, 2012 at 10:18 PM
ADK you got that right. Hey is this a joke or what. Has anybody looked at the county books. C Scott Vanderhof lose to Ed Day next time around. Clarkstown Schools and all through the County just tax and spend for cronies and friends. It makes me sick.
Scotty February 25, 2012 at 12:13 AM
Oh yeah...like Vanderhoef will be getting exactly 1/2 of his county salary....1st that won't happen..why ? Because there will be a loop hole big enough to drive a truck through, then factor in his "untaken" vacation, holiday, sick days not taken..etc. Tell you what..I will take his deal in a heartbeat when I retire and you know what ? That won't happen..do as I say not what I do.
Watchdog February 25, 2012 at 03:29 AM
This guy is amazing. Cuomo calls for a 2% cap and he gives us 30%, THAT IS 15 years worth of 2% increases in ONE YEAR with No. end in sight. We will have another large tax increase next year because here we are at the end of February and NOTHING has been done to reduce costs. NOTHING.
elizabeth February 25, 2012 at 05:16 AM
During the last budget, Vanderhoef, basically gave in to the unions. You should have seen them all, crowding in at the County Office Building! There was no place to park, let alone stand. They were shaking their signs, wearing the T-shirts, etc. I'm not against unions, but there needs to be a balance between taxes and waste. Yet, he didn't lay off one person, and the County hospital, which is running at a loss each year, continues to run.
Mike S February 25, 2012 at 05:57 AM
How about getting rid of pensions for new-hires and instituting 401k plans like the private sector. It is amazing that government workers,(servants) to society get the best retirement plans and the private sector has to foot the bill even after they retire. How about having the government workers pay for my pension and everyone else's for that matter. Pensions are a thing of the past and they have put many good companies out of business which is why pensions are practically extinct in the private world. Unfortunately, the government can't go out of business because they can increase revenue whenever they feel like doing so. Tttttttthis cannot go on forever as many hard working people are losing their homes because of taxes and layoffs and the government refuses to cut costs and spending! Come on, Wake up legislators!!!!!! Do something now before we all go broke giving you our money! Eliminate pensions and cut spending NOW!
Walt February 25, 2012 at 12:38 PM
Vanderhoef is weak. He talks a big game but when it came time to stand up against the RC legislature's budget and their 30% tax increase to maintain the status quo, he wussied out and signed it. Instead of sticking to his original plan of making some much needed cuts and some tough reforms he rolled over and played dead. Disgraceful.
Randy February 25, 2012 at 01:35 PM
I was at one of the county meetings where the union members crowded in. Vanderhoef didn't even show up. Leadership requires standing up for what you are proposing even when that is difficult. Government employees in this state need to pay their fair share towards their generous pensions. Today, they pay only 3% for the first ten years and after that nothing! School districts, villages, towns, counties and the state must make up the difference by passing this tax cap exempt expense on to the taxpayer. By way of comparison, federal employees in the older CSRS retirement system contribute 7% for their entire careers and get a drastically reduced social security if they work enough years outside their federal career to qualify.
elizabeth February 25, 2012 at 03:29 PM
Oh, by the way, Nancy Low Hogan, the newly elected County representative, was 1 of 2 Orangetown Board members, who refused to rescind her override vote on the 2% tax cap, despite the pleas of a number of town residents at the adoption meeting. Fortunately, three other members finally did the right thing, and the tax cap was voted in. The next time she runs, do not vote for her!
Sal Monella February 27, 2012 at 03:04 AM
Whats a pension?
stephany February 27, 2012 at 05:38 AM
I'd like to know how many nys pension checks, including teachers and police, are being deposited in banks in states with no income tax--fla,texas,nevada. a NYS pension is pretty sweet if you live in NY but it can more than double your quality of life and cash on hand if the cost of living is cut in 1/2 or more and you pay no state income tax. Cuomo must know that stat. a lot of the problem is the length of time people get checks, police can collect a check for more than half their life starting at birth and potentially 3 times the amount of yrs they actually worked. teachers retire at 55 that's about 1 to 1-30 work 30 pension Put the ball in the new employees court,, 3 choices..do you want to make more now and retire with state pension at 65+ or make less now and retire with state pension at 58+ with the retirement benefit for both based solely on average salary of all years worked minus overtime or make the most now and go with a 401K they fully fund and manage. under no circumstance can the salary be more than 110% of what the private sector gets for the equivalent job.
ADK February 27, 2012 at 02:10 PM
Stephany...believe it or not but most (all) NYS pensions are NYS tax free!!
stephany February 27, 2012 at 04:25 PM
If you live in NY where the cost of living is high. Most 70+ yr old none public retirees are moving to Fla etc to retire and not to work + collect a pension. That is where the no state income tax helps FLA is only 6% NY is 8.5 or so. None of the states I mentioned tax nys pensions but more than 30 states do. Maybe NY could tax future pensions for new employees that are shipped to any other state for the first 5+++ yrs. All things considered I imaging we could be paying our public employees at least twice what they are getting in fla probably with better benefits. to retire to fla at 40 or 55 with a 50% NYS pension is like having a no show job with the best of benefits. Tax the pensions we ship out of state for the first 5 yrs. If your state is good enough to give you a pension it should be good enough to live in and spend some of it for 5 yrs after you retire from the job but not from working. Non public sector NY workers are looking at no retirement except for SS or waiting till 75,55+20 or 40+35, to start collecting while public sector employees have already been collecting and working part time at least for 20-35 yrs in another state. 5 yrs is not too much to ask. maybe 10 is better. NY may also exempt the first $20,000 of Out-of-state government pensions, which could be the whole thing. if someone is dumb enough to move here they need to pay tax on it all.

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