BY JOE KUHN
At Tuesday’s County Legislature meeting the floor was opened for public discourse on the special order of the day; a vote on two amendments to the Laws of Rockland County, both of them intended to aid local veterans.
The first proposed law was an amendment to Article XV11, which would indefinitely extend an already existing property tax deduction for Cold War-era veterans, which was set to expire this year. The second proposal was an amendment to Article 1X, which would increase the number of veterans’ homes eligible for tax exemption.
Veterans from all around the county spoke out in favor of the legislation. First to address the legislature was Jerry Donnellan, who bemoaned the dwindling number of veterans residing in Rockland, explaining that veterans are “volunteers by nature, we want to keep these people living here.”
Other veterans echoed the sentiments of Donnellan, stating veterans are “a big benefit” to the county and have had a hand in establishing everything from scholarships to toy drives through the American Legion and Jewish War Veterans.
Some of those who spoke expressed concern that veterans, like many other groups in Rockland, are finding it too expensive to live here. “Taxes have become prohibitive,” declared the father of a seven year navy veteran who recently moved out of the county. “It’s difficult to stay here when you come back”.
Mayor Ed Markunas of Suffern also voiced his support of the amendments, informing the Legislature that his village “had just passed the exemptions and would appreciate if you did the same.”
After public comments both of the proposed amendment was unanimously passed. Jeremy Honey, commander of the Disabled Veterans of Rockland, spoke for all of his fellow veterans when he thanked the legislature for their support of the dedicated veterans who have endured hardships “beyond civilian sensibilities.”
At the opening of the meeting, Chairman Tony L. Earl announced that County Executive Ed Day had officially rescinded his proposal to withdraw from the health plan NYSHIP and enroll with AETNA, a move that would have changed the health care provider for over 2,000 retired government workers.
The Democratic majority in the Legislature had taken action to fight the county executive’s move. Before yet another battle between Day and the Democrats heated up, however, a senior official from AETNA made a controversial statement that led to erosion of trust in the company across the United States.
The official, testifying before a state panel in California, said decisions on whether to approve or deny coverage of of treatments were not reviewed by physicians.