Rockland Business Association Supports Most of Zebrowski Deficit Plan

Samuels: Rockland needs total overhaul of its fiscal management program
RBA Press Release

The Rockland Business Association (RBA) board of directors voted unanimously Tuesday to endorse Assemblyman Kenneth Zebrowski’s Deficit Reduction Plan, but without its proposed sales tax component.

Zebrowski’s plan establishes a Rockland County Deficit Reduction Taskforce with significant oversight and enforcement powers over the county budget for at least the next three years. The plan also includes a local pension reform bill that will allow the County to save $1.3 million by lowering the costs of their pension amortization.

Al Samuels, the CEO/President of the RBA, said his board believes Zebrowski’s plan should stand as a framework for the county to avoid future budget collapses.

“I am extremely pleased with the leadership shown by the RBA board in passing the resolution in support of Assemblyman Zebrowski’s Deficit Reduction Plan and I applaud their courage in taking a stand regarding the inclusion of even a relatively small sales tax increase,” said Samuels. “Rockland must embrace a total structural overhaul of its approach to county finances. Allowing our elected officials the short-term ‘fix’ of revenue enhancers does not encourage this necessary change in that approach.”

Rockland currently faces an $80 million deficit that helped influence Moody’s Investor Services’ decision last week to downgrade the county’s credit rating from A3 to Baa3, the lowest-ranking for any county in the state and just one level above junk status.

“Over the past decade, the Rockland Business Association has transformed itself from a networking organization to the most informed and influential advocacy group in the county,” said Jan Degenshein, the Chairman of the RBA board of directors. “We are pleased to be working shoulder to shoulder in a non-partisan fashion with our government leadership. County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef and Assemblyman Kenneth Zebrowski have independently proposed bitter pills for all of us to swallow. However, apart from an increase in taxes, we endorse proposed reductions in expenditures along with a broader reach in revenue sources. These positions, while arguably unpopular, represent a beginning to the resolution of our county’s far-reaching and complex economic crisis.”

When unveiling his plan, Zebrowski said Rockland’s plan to cut the deficit was not well received by lawmakers in Albany.

“The County’s original plan has not been well received in Albany for a variety of reasons,” said Zebrowksi. “First, New York State is not interested in raising taxes. Second, significant questions and gaps remain in the County’s plan that makes it impossible to determine if it is actually balanced on a multi-year basis. Third, imprudent budget practices over the past several years has made State officials concerned about giving significant borrowing and taxing authority without significant oversight.”