Supervisor Andy Stewart Says Shifting Costs to Towns Does Not Benefit the Taxpayer

Open letter from Orangetown Supervisor Andy Stewart to county lawmakers

Dear Mr. Vanderhoef and Rockland County Legislators,

I write to register my objection to the cost-shifting of county-controlled programs to the Towns, and specifically to Orangetown. There is no policy logic to these cost shifts; they are proposed merely because state law permits it. In an effort to keep our proverbial house in order, the town budgeted in 2011 for 2012 operations, meeting the tax cap, and dealing with the massive decrease in assessed value due to the Pfizer settlement. Orangetown’s 2012 budget could not anticipate either the cost of running federal and state elections, or the completely unknown cost of paying for college tuition for Orangetown residents attending SUNY community colleges outside Rockland County.

We currently have $40,000 in our elections budget line, achieved through the elimination of a position in the Tax Receiver’s office, but this is a small down payment on the estimated $300,000 town share of the cost for four elections. The county controls both the staffing for elections and the rate of pay, but is taking advantage of state law to shift cost from the county’s financial ledger to those of the towns.

As for the community college charge-back plan, this cost shift has never been discussed nor was it included in the county’s 2012 budget. We invest in recreational programs, not academic programs. We don’t even have a budget line for the community college charge-back scheme you have proposed. Thank you for considering these comments.

Sincerely,

Andy Stewart
Supervisor, Town of Orangetown