County Executive’s Corner: Looking Back and Ahead at Year’s End

 

By Rockland County Executive Ed Day

A new year is approaching and I couldn’t be happier about my plans for the first day of 2018 – I will be taking the solemn oath of office to serve as your County Executive for another four years.

I am humbled by this honor, which tops a year of achievements both for my administration and, more importantly, for Rockland County.

The year now ending has been a turning point for the county.

After four years of hard work, we eliminated the $138 million deficit I inherited when I took office four years ago.

This achievement means that our checking account will no longer be overdrawn. Instead, we are starting the year at zero and it will be up to us to build our rebuild our reserves, to start preparing for the future.

Fixing our finances, ushering in an era of renewal and putting this county on a path toward a true renaissance were major accomplishments this year.

Happily, there were others.

Let’s take a moment as the year draws to a close to remember all that we accomplished in 2017.

Here are just a few highlights:

  • We were collectively shocked as 2016 drew to a close and Gov. Andrew Cuomo granted clemency to convicted Brinks cop-killer Judith Clark. Just days later, more than 500 people rallied to call for this terrorist to stay where she belongs – behind bars. We were relieved that the Parole Board heard us and decided to keep Judith Clark in prison. For now. We will fight again and again to make sure she stays where she belongs.
  • I promised an all-out assault on slumlords and I made good on another part of that promise in the spring when the Rental Registry went into effect. This requirement means that owners of dwellings with three or more rental units have to provide basic information including a certificate of occupancy to the Rockland Department of Health. This allows us to make sure the unit is safe for people to live in, who owns it and who is responsible for its upkeep. It also allows us to better track our housing stock.

This new registry, along with the Rockland Codes Initiative, sends the message loud and clear that landlords can no longer get away with endangering lives to make money.

  • What an honor it was for me to be standing on the first span of the new Tappan Zee Bridge as it opened this summer. We will keep up the fight to keep the tolls affordable for Rockland County residents.

The new bridge is just a part of an overhaul of the infrastructure and mass transit system for our region. We added weekend bus service over the bridge and we fought to make sure that there is a dedicated bus lane. We expect to see more improvements on our roadways as the Lower Hudson Transit Link is implemented.

  • The goodness of the people of Rockland County was apparent once again as we stood together to help hurricane victims in Puerto Rico and Florida, as well as flood victims in Texas. Our public and private organizations worked together to make sure that our donations reached the people who needed help the most.
  • The opioid epidemic continues to sweep the nation. I put in place a program that brings Narcan training into the community, providing this life-saving antidote to more people. In the coming year, Rockland will focus on a multifaceted and collaborative effort to combat this killer. We are also going after the pharmaceutical companies and others who unleased this scourge upon our nation.
  • Rockland County was awarded $5.8 million in state grants for economic development, nearly double the amount received last year. The funds will be used to expand private businesses, revitalize municipalities and encourage tourism.
  • We settled a long expired contract with the Corrections Officers union. We are working diligently to bring contracts with our other union up to date – a big task for 2018.
  • For the first time in at least 10 years, the 2018 budget I presented to the Legislature was approved unanimously. How’s that for working together? We showed it can be done and I will continue to focus on collaboration – not confrontation – in the coming year.

The budget stayed within the state property tax cap, avoided layoffs, fully funded our nonprofits and sets the course for the county’s renaissance.

  • The Sain Building should have been closed a long time ago and this year we padlocked it. Employees moved into spacious and renovated offices in our Pomona complex, which we are developing into a health and human services hub.

We can only hope that this is the year our partners in government, the Rockland County Legislature, finally agrees to sell the building to a buyer who has been patiently waiting to pay $4.51 million to knock it down and build much-needed senior housing.

We have so many plans and goals for the coming year as Rockland County’s renaissance continues.

I invite the public to join me at noon, January 1, at the Fire Training Center in Pomona as I am sworn in for my second term and begin to make our dreams for 2018 a reality.