BY KATHY KAHN
The Rockland Legislature held its final public hearing on the proposed 2017 county budget Tuesday night before delving into a two-hour discussion of why funding was restored to dozens of public benefit corporations and 50 vacant county positions the Executive branch had proposed to eliminate were added back. Democrats eliminated a proposed inspector general position, which Day said would act as a corruption watchdog. Democrats said if such a position were created it needed more clarification, also noting if it were created, that person should answer to the Legislature.
At 11-6, it was mostly a partisan vote, with only Republican Doug Jobson, Jr. breaking ranks to join Democrats in their amendments of the proposed Ed Day budget. If the six votes hold, Day can veto most of the Democrats revisions to his budgets.
The Rockland County Times asked Day how if he had listed his budget at $674 million and the Legislature listed theirs at $705 million, so how could the Legislature be the one offering a small tax decrease, while Day offered a small tax increase? Day told the Rockland County Times, “The ‘$30 million difference’ is merely a look at the gross instead of net budget (without fund subsidies included). [The Democrats’ budget] is truly $3 million over the Executive budget, which includes $1.5 million [anticipated] from sales tax increase, $1 million from double-counted DSS revenues and $500,000 from the sale of a building not approved. These revenues are being spent on additional cost such as the sheriff and reinstated layoffs and the 224s. If these additional expenditures remain and shortfall will occur on the revenues that will create a hefty tax increase next year to make up these shortfalls. With an additional $4 million revenue item from a yet to be sold building [Sain Building], the potential shortfall is $7 million.”
Despite, Day’s interpretation, legislators boasted that they sent a budget back to the County Executive’s Office with a tax cut.
Supporters of Day believe the Democrats are simply trying to set him up for a fall. Next year he is up for reelection after all.
The lengthy delay over the sale of the Sain Building, which Day hoped to unload months ago to the only available bidder, could chase that bidder, National Development, away entirely. “We have been working in earnest for more than a year to complete this sale to no avail,” said Michael Glynn, the company’s vice president, wearying of the infighting in the Legislature.
While some defended the amended budget with grace, other Democrats said Day used his “Facebook page to mislead the public, just like Trump does with his constant Twitters.” That would be the same Trump who just overturned the American political status quo almost single-handedly.
Chair Alden Wolfe, who once sued Day over mean words, claimed Day is a “whiner.”
Clearly, no winners came away from the meeting.
Lon Hofstein (R-Dist. 5) summed up the Legislature’s dysfunction succinctly: “We had unprecedented deficits from the former administration. Today, our financial condition has significantly improved. Members of the majority would like us to continue on our former path. Those who ignore history are doomed to be a victim of it.”