By Rockland County Executive Ed Day
We are moving forward, remaking our government, making it more effective, more streamlined, less costly.
We have moved 150 employees, out of the deteriorating and decrepit Sain Building, into renovated and spacious offices in Building A at our Pomona Campus.
Rockland County has been given a chance to do something great; a golden opportunity to reimagine and reinvigorate the entire Pomona Campus. Now is the time for the methodical repurposing and rebuilding of Rockland County’s facilities.
At the same time, we are compressing our footprint as the number of employees has dropped from over 3,000 to 1,691. We need to take economies of scale for our taxpayers.
That is why I am proposing borrowing $15 million to complete the rehabilitation and repurposing of the Pomona Campus.
Building A is already being transformed into a hub of county health and social services. We are building for the future, establishing a positive, sustainable source of momentum for taking public infrastructure and confidence to the next level.
Our next step is to begin the process of upgrading our Medical Examiner’s office. It’s currently located in the rear of Building A and requires a serious upgrade.
In addition to relocating the office to newly renovated space in Building H, we will be purchasing state of the art equipment to perform virtual autopsies. There is a need in Rockland County to provide fast and reliable forensic services to our community.
Obviously, no one wants to see their loved one become the subject of an autopsy and we do our best to accommodate people who have religious or other objections to autopsies. All that said, it is critically important that the demise of any person is fully investigated and we provide justice for potential victims and their families.
A virtual autopsy combines an MRI and CT scan with a non-invasive examination of the body. Accommodating those whose beliefs do not allow or have time for a traditional autopsy, and ensuring they still gain closure after the tragic death of a loved one, is critical.
Performing these procedures will also help fill the county’s coffers. Other counties will be able to bring their cases to our Medical Examiner for virtual autopsies, creating yet another new revenue stream for Rockland.
This also gives us an opportunity to offer cutting edge internships to local college students; promoting job opportunities and helping attract businesses to the area. Not to mention a training opportunity for law enforcement.
Our next step forward at the Pomona Campus is the creation of a new training academy for the Rockland County Sheriff’s Department.
We’re not here to throw good money after bad. The current academy has outgrown their current space and will be moved out of the basement of the Fire Training Center, into Building G at the Pomona Campus.
Not only will the new academy boast better, more modern facilities but it will also be a revenue generator for the county. There will now be excess space for recruits from other areas to come to Rockland and train.
The District Attorney’s Office also has a need, right now we are paying nearly half a million dollars a year in rent for their investigative unit. By moving this unit into space at the Pomona Campus we are eliminating that expense and saving you, the taxpayer, money.
The overall repurposing of the Pomona Campus will also have benefits for the Board of Elections. They currently store voting equipment in Building G and need more adequate, better designed space. Protecting the integrity of our elections and voting equipment is of critical importance.
In the meantime, our fiscal discipline has paid off. We are paying down bonds that we took out years ago and thanks to our conservative fiscal management over the last four years, Standard and Poor’s just rated Rockland’s bonds in the A category.
This is the county’s sixth consecutive bond upgrade since 2014, when Rockland’s bonds were rated just above junk and the county had a $138 million deficit.
Now is the ideal time to begin investing back into our County. With our bond upgrade and low interest rates we can accomplish this investment without raising additional taxes!
And while the $15 million total in bonds necessary to fund these projects is significant; transforming the Pomona Campus while we have the chance will provide lasting value to our county and a legacy for future generations to build upon.