Legislature reviews 2018 budget

BY JOE KUHN

The Rockland County Legislature convened last Tuesday to review the county’s Capital Project Budget for the fiscal year 2018 and approve the purchase of supplies and materials necessary for the operations of various government departments. The meeting began quickly as the Legislature breezed through a number of smaller budgetary matters including the official acceptance of grants from the New York State Office of Children and New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services. A number of purchase orders were also approved; Rockland County Sewer District One was authorized to buy two new pickup trucks as well as multiple Odor Control Systems for various pump stations across the County.

The Legislature spent the majority of the meeting discussing the Capital Project Budget. They began with a summary of all changes made to the budget including the cancellation of the proposed renovation and upgrade of the Hi- Tor animal shelter. Repairs to the building were deemed unnecessary as the town had already allocated $500,000 for the creation of a new shelter back in 2015. In addition to that initial funding a request for an additional $700,000 dollars was made bringing the proposed budget for the construction of the new shelter up to $1.2 million.

The Legislature also discussed ongoing projects included in the budget such as the repairs being done to multiple facilities at Rockland Community College. Improvements to the school’s pool, field house, and water main are included in the budget and are expected to cost seven million dollars. Overall $13 million in additional funds was requested to complete ongoing projects undertaken by the county.

The Capital Project Budget also includes $23 million allocated for new projects. One legislator remarking that the planning committee “was very hard nosed with new projects” and that “there were a number (of projects) we didn’t even consider”. Included in these new projects is the upgrade and relocation of the county medical examiner’s office, specifically the autopsy suite which was described by an official as “antiquated” having originally been constructed in the 1970s.

While the Legislature was in favor of the proposed renovations to government buildings they also voiced frustration; “The plans were made without this branch of government,” they cried. The meeting concluded after the review of all the new projects proposed by the Capital Budget.