County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef said a combination of factors caused Rockland’s current of a , which will require program cuts, department mergers and tax increases.
“This race against revenue loss is ongoing and we’ve been losing it,” he said at a Tuesday press conference.
The lingering recession reduced sales tax revenues. In recent years, the county reduced its portion of the property tax to six percent, which is lower than neighboring counties, and under new legislation can only be raised two percent per year. Costs for state mandated programs are increasing more than will be covered by the allowable property tax increase.
Vanderhoef put together a proposed menu of cost saving measures and revenue increases that he will share with the county legislature and commissioners of the affected county departments. He said mandated programs such as Medicare cannot be changed and state mandate relief has not materialized forcing the county to look at reducing or eliminating non-mandated programs. Additionally, Vanderhoef recommended increasing several tax rates.
Under his projections, the hotel/motel tax would be increased for an additional $1 million, mortgage tax raised to bring in another $3 million, county property tax increased for $1.2 million more and sale of Rockland Community College’s Spring Valley satellite campus for $5 million. He is still pushing for the county’s Summit Park Hospital to be transitioned to a Public Benefit Corporation as a another revenue source but does not expect that to happen soon.
Several program closures will be starting while others need to be discussed with department heads. Among those being shut down are:
- Displaced Homemaker (Guidance Center)
- Community Day Treatment
- Prenatal Program at Nyack Hospital
- Adult Home
Also on the list is the Haverstraw Clinic that will be relocated to save rent and the Sheriff’s Transport Unit which Vanderhoef described as the most uncertain one on the list.
“The big thing is these are hard decisions,” he said, adding this is what is required or something similar to it. “Every one of these has an impact on the quality of life in Rockland.”
Vanderhoef presented a longer proposed selection of programs that would lose funding and department merger for 2012 to save $9 million.
Among those on the list are:
- County Archivist
- Environmental Resources
- Human Rights Commission
- Office of Employee Rights & Training
- Police Academy
- Americorps Program
Vanderhoef must present a 2012 budget proposal to the legislature on October 23.
“I don’t have the luxury of time,” he said.
The county executive plans to meet with the sheriff, district attorney and department commissioners within the next few days. He already brief the county legislative chair and budget and finance chair.
According to Vanderhoef’s long-term projection, the revenue increases and spending cuts could create a surplus for the county of $62.2 million in 2015.