County Legislature approves rehiring, target fund balance bills

BY MICHAEL RICONDA

New City – The Rockland County legislature convened on October 16 to unanimously approve two local laws which increase oversight over the county employee rehiring process and seek to improve management of the county fund balance.

The first local law prohibits rehiring of employees who will, at some point, receive money from the county for leaving service. It will also require the County Executive’s office to provide information on the rehiring.

The legislature has recently scrutinized some cases of rehiring which might have constituted “double dipping” by employees who receive incentives but eventually return to their jobs.

“On occasion, the administration will rehire someone who left service,” Legislator Alden Wolfe, who sponsored the bill, said. “However, those types of rehirings occur without any notice to the legislature and it makes it very difficult for us to perform our oversight function.”

The second law is a fund balance management policy which creates a target fund balance within roughly five percent of what has been agreed by the county and outside auditors and consultants to be a “healthy” fund balance level.

According to Wolfe, the bill was reviewed by rating agencies and it was reported by the Commissioner of Finance that the agencies viewed the adoption of the law “very favorably.”

“They agree the important component is moving us out of the financial difficulties we are in now,” Wolfe said.

The target fund balance is supplemented by a provision allowing the creation of a “rainy day fund” which will be financed by any surplus above the five percent target.

There were also three resolutions approving the renewal of various transportation contracts through November 2. However, a new business waiver vote was evenly split between “ayes” and “nays” and the necessary majority was not reached, meaning the bills did not reach the floor.