Rockland County Legislators Ed Day (District 5), Cris Carey (District 9) and Pat Moroney (District 15) think the amount of the is overstated. Based on discussions with at least one municipal financial expert not connected to the county, they think Rockland does not need to borrow $80 million. They say the correct figure to bond is $62 million.
“We’re saying you should borrow $62 million at best,” said Day (R-New City).
“I fully support the deficit going forward but want to make sure it is the right number,” said Carey (R-Bardonia).
They intend to voice their objections at tonight’s . Day said the $80 million figure is a combination of the $52 million deficit from 2010, an $18 million deficiency note issued in May 2011 and $10 million deficit from 2011. He pointed out however that the $18 million is being covered by the property tax increase and should not be included in the deficit
The county legislature voted to make the 28 percent property tax increase permanent, originally County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef proposed it as a one-time property tax assessment. Day said the $18 million deficit would be paid as of January 31 the day that property tax bills are due. The $18 million deficiency note was issued in 2011 to cover the shortfall created by Summit Park, the county operated nursing home. Vanderhoef had proposed forming a Public Benefit Corporation to take over the nursing home and said that would raise necessary revenue for the county.
Day noted the annual payments on a $62 million bond over a 10-year period would be approximately $8 million. According to budget projections those yearly payments could be covered for by a dedicated one-quarter of one percent sales tax increase. However, the legislature is seeking to increase the sales tax by three-eights of one percent and the three legislators do not believe that is necessary.
“We recognize it has been committed as part of the budget,” said Day. “However, in 2013, there is no reason to continue that sales tax as three-eighths.”
Day pointed out there is no consideration given to the $5 million projected as revenue of the sale of two county office buildings. If those sales take place, then the $62 million deficit figure he quoted would fall to $57 million.
The overriding concern is that the county may be “over-borrowing.” Carey said there is another issue that he thinks the county has failed to address.
“The budget has already been approved,” he said. “What I didn’t see was the corresponding efficiencies.”
Carey said while there are tax hikes included in the 2012 there are no proposals from the county administration to make government more effective while costing taxpayers less money.
With several measures requiring home rule authorization from the state legislature, Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski (D-New City) has been following the county's financial situation closely.
"I have concerns about the entire budget and all the measures they are going to need home rule authorization for," said Zebrowski.
Once he receives the formal language and formal requests from the legislature, Zebrowski plans to meet with the comptroller's office, the administration and budget division of the state to scrutinize the numbers.
"I won't be carrying anything that is padded or unduly burdens overburdened taxpayers," he said.
The meeting tonight begins at 7 p.m. at the county office building located at 11 New Hempstead Road in New City.