Legislature sets date on charter discussion, leaves term limit question up in the air
BY MICHAEL RICONDA
NEW CITY – The Rockland County Legislature met on May 20 to set the date for a discussion of the Rockland County Charter, which may soon see alterations. However, there is some question on whether or not term limits will be included in the final draft of the proposal.
The proposed changes, which include changes to the legislative and budget process to enhance efficiency and oversight, new contract approval duties for the legislature, language clarification for county laws and the appointment of a county auditor, were put together by Legislative Chairmaan Alden Wolfe over a two year period of discussion in the Rules and Government Operations committees.
According to Wolfe, term limits and similar items were deliberately left out to avoid “political” debate, which could hinder needed and relatively uncontroversial reform. “The main item is improving the budget process, which has been a source of frustration for us for many years,” Wolfe said.
Still, voices in county government have already begun to speak up for the “political” items. The sole vote against the scheduling came from Legislator Joe Meyers, who stated he was “disappointed” with the exclusion of term limits.
“I think that the public supports term limits and I think its good for this body to have term limits”
Rockland County Executive Ed Day spoke even more strongly on the proposed changes, advocating for not only term limits but also anti-corruption safeguards and a “two hats” rule preventing legislators from holding certain other local offices.
Offering comment to the Rockland County Times, Day characterized parts of the charter reform as “operationally problematic” and “weak” and characterized a lack of cooperation between the two branches of government as the reason behind the divide. However, he offered assurances his office would review the proposal and submit their recommendations to the legislature.
“We’re responding back with a number of proposals for the charter,” Day stated. “These will include a number of things that the people want, not just what the Legislature wants.”
Though term limits are not in the current version, their inclusion is not impossible. Wolfe stressed the proposal was still in a workable stage and as discussion progresses among county officials and the general public, any number of changes can be made.
“The book is not closed on this,” Wolfe assured the legislature.
The changes must pass through the Committee of the Whole and the regular legislature, undergo changes at the suggestion of county officials and survive a public referendum in November. The first public hearing on the changes to the county charter will be on July 1 at 7:10 p.m.