By Rockland County Executive Ed Day
You can’t make this up. For years, the County of Rockland would routinely conduct business with individuals or entities that owed property taxes. On its face, it’s absurd to pay thousands of dollars to a vendor for services or products when they are in arrears – solely based on an existing contract. This county practice of unknowingly paying debtors continued for years because our internal systems were not set up to communicate. As part of our larger efforts to restructure county government, we’ve changed this.
This week, I issued an Executive Order requiring all payments to contracted entities that owe county property taxes be placed in escrow until that party’s back taxes are paid in full or otherwise satisfied. By taking this step, we hope to push contractors and vendors to pay their taxes in full – if they want to continue doing business with Rockland County.
To accomplish this, I’ve directed that all new, renewed and amended contracts undergo a review by the County’s Real Property Tax Officer to learn whether that party owes money. As part of the county’s process for vetting contracts going forward, we will look to see if the vendor is up to date on its property taxes. This small increase in oversight will save the county big problems by helping to avoid involvement with disreputable companies and irresponsible individuals.
Additionally, the Executive Order also requires that all bids and requests for proposals note any tax debt owed to the county. Back taxes will be considered a negative criteria when evaluating the various bids or proposals.
Given my administration’s ongoing efforts to restore fiscal integrity to county government, this Executive Order is one example of how we are working to make the county’s framework more effective at securing contracts for the highest quality services at the best price – while maintaining the taxpayer’s best interests.
Since my first day in office, we’ve made it a top priority to find positive solutions to our painful financial and economic problems. We’re building an organization that is small enough to listen, big enough to tackle real problems, smart enough to spend our money wisely and honest enough to be held accountable for results. Good government reforms, such as the checking contractors and vendors against the property tax rolls, is integral to our ongoing efforts to ensure a brighter – and steadier – fiscal future for Rockland County.
I will never forget that I am accountable for the taxpayer’s money.