County executive proposes sweeping cuts to Sheriff’s Dept.

County Executive Proposes Elimination of Rockland Sheriff’s Police Division, Cutting 37 Police Jobs Day: Rockland can no longer afford duplication of services

BY BILL DEMAREST
Originally published by Nyack Free Press

NEW CITY – Rockland County Executive Ed Day, a former police officer, today proposed cutting 37 police jobs by eliminating the Police Division of the Rockland County Sheriff’s Department, saying the county can’t afford the duplication of services that exists with this unit.

The plan, part of Day’s proposed $772 million 2015 budget proposal, would also eliminate the Sheriff’s Mounted Unit, which provides mounted police officers for special events and for enhanced late-night enforcement efforts in Nyack, Spring Valley and Haverstraw. The budget, however, keeps the Sheriff’s Marine Unit, which operates on the Hudson River, and maintains the county’s emergency helicopter. The proposal does not hit the other areas of the Sheriff’s Department, which oversees the Rockland County Correctional Facility in New City and operates specialized criminal investigation units and a civil action enforcement unit.

“While public safety continues to be a priority for my administration, tough choices had to be made across all departments and agencies,” Day said in announcing his budget plan today at a public gathering at the New City Library. “As a former New York City police officer, I regret that law enforcement layoffs are necessary to balance this budget, but there are no sacred cows. I was elected to reduce expenses, and that’s what I will do.”

Rockland County Sheriff Louis Falco III, who is an independently-elected county official, today is reviewing Day’s budget proposals and is expected to respond on Friday. While the Sheriff’s Department provides services that the county is required to offer, such as running the county jail and enforcing civil court orders, the county is not legally required to operate the Police Division – long known as the Sheriff’s patrol. On average, the Police Division has two police officers on patrol throughout Rockland County per shift, according to county officials.

County government-level lawmakers have long debated whether Rockland taxpayers can afford the extra police services provided through the Sheriff’s patrol and units such as the mounted police and the river patrol. Sheriffs, including Falco and former Sheriff James Kralik, have argued that these units provide essential services to the public.

The proposed 37 job cuts are part of a total reduction of 111 full-time positions proposed in budget, which now goes to the Rockland County Legislature for consideration. In the plan, 33 positions in security, hospital radiology and laundry and the Department of Social Services managed care unit would be outsourced to private firms. Day said he believes his budget plan puts the county on a path toward long-term financial stability, and includes a $10 million payment to reduce the county government deficit. Day said the plan holds the local taxpayer supported spending on county operations to an increase of 2 percent for 2015.

The plan would increase the county portion of the average Rockland taxpayer’s property tax bill by about $20. The county portion of the property tax bill is one of the smallest items, with local school and town taxes making up the largest items.

“This is not a political budget,” Day said. “Our plan achieves real, year-to-year savings, the result of a top to bottom restructuring of government operations.
We inherited the most fiscally stressed county in the state, and this budget is a key step in strengthening the extremely fragile financial situation we remain in today.”