Positive things are happening in Rockland County, and I’m very proud of the Legislature’s role in tackling the County’s deficit, knocking it down from a high of $138 million to what we expect to be about $10 million at the end of this year. Notably, in 2014, we fought for and won state approval to cut our deficit by $96 million through a deficit bond. That bond will be permanently paid off in less than ten years.
But we didn’t stop there. Since that time, my colleagues and I in the Legislature have taken the following additional steps to attack the deficit:
The 2014 budget amended and approved by the Legislature resulted in a surplus of over $4 million, which was all applied toward reducing the deficit.
In 2014, the Legislature acted to sell the “Bank of New York Building” in New City, as well as the Spring Valley RCC campus. The total proceeds of those sales, $8,199,069, was then put toward the deficit.
For 2015, the Legislature approved a budget that set aside $5 million which went directly toward deficit reduction. The 2015 budget that was amended and approved by the Legislature went on to result in a surplus of almost $9 million. The Legislature ensured that every penny of that surplus was applied directly to the deficit.
The proposed 2016 budget presented by the County Executive had no money at all for deficit reduction. We changed it to include $1 million for deficit reduction.
Once again, this year, the County Executive’s proposed budget for 2017 has no money in it for deficit reduction. The State Comptroller, in his review of the budget, wrote that the lack of a plan for deficit reduction was a problem. His report included the following recommendation: “Ensure that the 2017 adopted budget will result in a decrease of the deficit.”
As we continue reviewing the County Executive’s proposed budget, we will heed the opinion of the Comptroller. The Legislature will do what we have always done – talk less, and act more. The County’s remaining deficit is a serious financial issue that begs a similarly serious response, and I expect that the Legislature will continue to respond in all the right ways.