By Rockland County Executive Ed Day
This week, I joined with union leaders to announce tentative deals that would provide modest raises for approximately 1,500 Rockland County employees. The agreements, if ratified by rank-and-file members of the Civil Service Employees Association and the Rockland Association of Management, would mark the first pay increases for both unions since 2010.
All parties were pleased to have reached agreements that address the taxpayer concerns and the CSEA and RAM membership’s needs, especially as we claw back from the brink of insolvency. We are fortunate to have a dedicated workforce that’s committed to providing essential services for the people of Rockland County. That said, it is my responsibility to negotiate on behalf of our citizens with a priority on protecting our taxpayers.
As you know, I believe that our employees are our most valuable asset. The members of the County of Rockland team demonstrate their commitment every day, whether they are responding to a customer inquiry in the Finance Department, administering a flu shot, plowing the snow from our roads or rushing to a HAZMAT scene. I am proud to be a member of such a dedicated and capable workforce that so fully understands the critical nature of our work and how each of us plays an important role in fulfilling our obligation to provide high quality reliable services to our customers.
I won’t deceive you: the first two years of my administration have not been easy for many of our workers. Our ongoing efforts to restore fiscal health to county government have involved immense sacrifice, from our commissioners and department heads down to our part-timers. Our employees are doing more with less. Consolidation has resulted in many employees taking on the duties and responsibilities of two or more people. Yet, even with our workforce at its lowest level in more than 20 years, our operations are running smoothly. The successful drive toward a leaner, more efficient government is due, in large part, to our amazing employees. Their professionalism and work ethic are second to none!
Regrettably, there are some very good people who are no longer with us. The closure of Summit Park Hospital & Nursing Care Center was something I could not have imagined just six months ago. But, the prospective buyer’s intransigence left us with few options. His decision to walk away from the transaction to sell the facility left us to face an additional double-digit tax increase without swift action. Closure was the action we took. Jobs were lost.
The decision to close the hospital and nursing home was the toughest I’ve made as your county executive. In the months and years ahead, I believe my decision will be judged as a prudent action that brought about lower taxes and an improved quality of life for our residents.
During the past two years, we have taken great strides to set our county on a path to a better future. Putting our fiscal house in order simply would not be possible without our loyal, diverse and dedicated employees who provide valuable services to every citizen of the County. I am proud of this tradition of public service and the competent, committed and proud individuals who make Rockland County the best place to live, work and raise a family.
We have a bright future ahead. Please join me in recognizing the contributions of the men and women of our dedicated workforce. Together, we have achieved many successes and, as we continue to work together, our goals will become a reality.