Improving Transparency For Agency Funding
By: Legislator Alden H. Wolfe (D- Montebello)
Rockland County Legislature
Beginning this year, the Rockland County Legislature has made important improvements in the process for providing funding to agencies in Rockland that are contracted to perform necessary public services. These improvements will greatly increase the transparency of the process and subsequent review of agencies that receive taxpayer funds.
The County contracts with certain nonprofit entities pursuant to County Law 224, which allows appropriations for certain public benefit services. Among others, the agencies that are funded include the Legal Aid Society, which provides defense attorneys to people who are indigent; the Hi Tor Animal Care Center, which serves abandoned and homeless animals; and Keep Rockland Beautiful, which keeps the county’s roadsides and waterways free from litter and conducts environmental education.
For 2016, the Legislature put new procedures in place to tighten up the overall application and review process, and we will be doing even more to revamp the process to improve its efficiency for 2017.
Our new procedures for funding these organizations have been extremely successful, making the application process smoother while also beefing up safeguards to ensure the money awarded is being properly spent. We want to be sure that taxpayers feel confident that their money is going toward necessary services throughout Rockland – services that would actually cost taxpayers more to provide if the County government were to take them over.
I am also pleased to announce that part of this effort to allow for even deeper accountability includes the creation of an oversight committee specifically devoted to reviewing all funding applications and associated requirements.
Each organization seeking funding must complete an annual application that includes a description of its services, its nonprofit tax return (known as a 990) and a copy of its latest financial statement (audit). Additionally, the organization must provide certificates of liability and workers’ compensation insurance or waivers; and two vouchers – one due April 1 and the other due Oct. 1 – with notarized affidavits that specify how funding awarded to their organization is being spent.
I will continue to work with my colleagues in government to build on the progress we make on creating a more transparent and accountable County government. Your taxpayer dollars are just that – yours – and you have a right to know where every penny goes.