Most of you know my administration has charted a new course for Rockland County, one guided by simple, common sense principles. Our core priorities include stabilizing Rockland’s finances, promoting economic growth and preserving the County for future generations.
Last week, I unveiled my Proposed Budget for 2016. It’s an ambitious agenda that begins the historic redesign of county government, leading to a new era of opportunity and prosperity for all our residents.
The fiscal plan shaves nearly $43 million from last year’s budget, the largest reduction in the history of Rockland County government. While some politicians talk about reducing the cost of government, my plan actually shrinks the county government budget in real dollars.
The 2016 proposal reverses the previous administration’s unsustainable fiscal path and breaks the cycle of overspending and over borrowing. In fact, our operational efficiencies will shave nearly 30% from our remaining deficit by the end of this year. In basic terms, the money we’re saving is going directly to our “mortgage.”
With my proposed budget, we are overcoming the monumental challenges of paying back a $138 million debt from before I took office and running a government for only $4 per month for the average Rockland County homeowner, and in doing so we are putting Rockland County back on the right track. If it were not for the crushing weight of the deficit we inherited, I would have delivered a budget with a significant property tax reduction.
The proposed budget also seeks to better align our workforce with the taxpayers’ ability to pay; we have steadily reduced staffing levels since I took office, from commissioners to receptionists, and everyone in between. My proposal creates a leaner, smarter county government.
It will also enhance public safety and improve your security when doing business at county office buildings or visiting our parks by ensuring we have professional, armed sheriff’s deputies protecting you. Even better, this will actually generate a savings of approximately $1.5 million to taxpayers.
This proposed 2016 budget is just a start. We will have much more to do in the months ahead to correct our county’s fiscal course. Our taxpayers expect us to demonstrate the fiscal discipline necessary to pay down the deficit and manage county services in the most cost-efficient manner possible. And, they expect us to reach across partisan lines to work together to reach that goal. I expect to work cooperatively with the Legislature to meet these challenges head on.