By Rockland County Executive Ed Day
Imagine a parallel universe where your Rockland County tax bill went up a staggering 35 percent to pay for a bloated $926.5 million budget.
It could have happened – but it didn’t.
Those were the predictions made in a multi-year budget plan done by the county in 2013, before I took office.
According to those predictions, by this year the county’s spending would have totaled nearly $1 billion and taxpayers would have been on the hook for every dime.
Not on my watch.
I just proposed a budget of $684.25 million, a slimmed down, efficient financial plan that is a staggering $240 million less than predicted.
This budget is under the state property tax cap, And it keeps our spending under the rate of inflation even though our costs have increased.
The deficit that was $138 million four years ago is now down to the single digits. And we are paying off the $96 million deficit bond – the ‘sins of the past’ – at a rate of $13.2 million per year without the 12 percent tax increase that was predicted.
As a result, your County property taxes will increase only a miniscule 1.95 percent – $2 every month – instead of the predicted 35 percent jump.
These accomplishments did not happen by accident or good fortune. Rather, it is the result of policies and procedures I put in place as County Executive.
The most fundamental change in how County government is run puts you, the taxpayer, in the forefront.
In other words, we believe that the residents of the community are the ultimate bosses – not the elected officials, not the employees or anyone else.
Government works for you, the taxpayer. And we believe that your money belongs in your pocket.
That philosophy has guided us as we continue to reinvent County government.
We spent months preparing the budget. As part of the process, we met with every department head and went over every budget line and every single position.
Due to that careful planning and review there will be no layoffs under by budget plan.
We are eliminating vacant positions and creating new and newly defined jobs that better serve the taxpayer.
We continue to provide the high-quality services that you have come to expect.
But we do it in a smarter, more efficient way.
The same with the non-profits. We are continuing to fund these agencies, but, again in a smarter, more efficient way.
In the past, there has been unnecessarily stressful and contentious struggles when it comes to funding public benefit contract agencies.
We have devised a better way to fund these agencies. Better for the taxpayers, better for these organizations and better for the people they serve.
Instead of just handing them money – your money – with no strings attached and no oversight, we have entered into contracts with many of these agencies.
That means they have a set of expectations and goals. It also assures them funding so they don’t get caught in the middle of a senseless political fight.
One more thing: means in some cases that these services are eligible for reimbursement from the state and federal government. We have already received nearly $1 million in reimbursements for services provided by these agencies.
Think about it – the same level of service, the same amount of County funding, but at a lower cost to you the tax payer.
I know that over the coming weeks our partners in government, the Legislature, will have plenty of questions about this budget.
I’m happy to answer them because I am confident that this spending plan fulfils the promises I made nearly four years ago to return Rockland County to prosperity.
We have truly ushered in an Era of Renewal.