Rockland County Executive Ed Day announced a series of austerity measures being put into effect immediately as a result of the Legislature’s failure to move forward quickly enough with the sale of the Sain Building.
“The people of Rockland elected me with a very clear mandate: Fix county finances,” Day said. “End the games of smoke and mirrors that put Rockland in the shameful position of being named the most fiscally stressed municipality in the state.”
The Legislature’s failure to accept an offer on the table from a buyer willing and able to pay $4.51 million for the Sain Building means that we are on course to end the fiscal year with a $4 million deficit.
To counter that failure on the part of the Legislature, these are the
very difficult steps that county government will be taking effective immediately.
The County Executive made every effort to make these cuts judiciously to lessen the impact on residents.
Effective immediately for the remainder of 2016:
· Hiring freeze, except for critical positions approved by the County Executive.
· No more overtime for county employees unless approved by the County Executive’s office.
· All discretionary fund accounts have been secured. requests to release any funds will be submitted by department head/commissioner to the finance department and the County Executive’s office for approval.
· Ban on all non-critical training and related expenses (i.e., seminars, conferences, travel, etc.)
· Existing car policy has been updated to make sure that all county-owned vehicles are parked at county facilities at the end of shifts.
· 20 percent of county-owned cars have to be turned in.
· Vendors will be paid later. In some cases, that delay could be measured in months.
· The cessation of all mass mailings, including any from the County Executive’s office except, and out of respect for the other branch of government, the county Legislature. Day expects the Legislature will respect both taxpayers and our organization by voluntarily complying with this cost savings measure.
· Department heads are charged with immediately renegotiating existing contracts to achieve a minimum 10 percent cost savings. Results are due to the County Executive’s office in 15 days.
· The county will consider a partial closure of all county parks effective Sept. 15
The county expects these measure to save approximately $3.3 million.
The plan does not affect services involving public health, public transportation or public safety.
But there will be impacts.
A hiring freeze means calls to a county department might not be returned as fast as it would have been before.
Maybe the grass won’t be cut as often in a county park. Perhaps the trash won’t be emptied quite as often.
Wait times at county offices will increase, as will responses to calls for service.
Off-hour responses will need to wait until the next business day.
Day maintains that the impact of not taking these measures would be worse for the average resident. A $4 million shortfall, for example, is the equivalent of a four percent tax increase.
The County Executive’s staff will review finances every 30 days. If there is a strong indication that the sale of the Sain Building can be expected by the end of the year, these measures can be reversed.