Rockland County government is changing. Since taking office I have refused to stick to the status quo that got us into so much trouble in the past. Reckless budgeting, years of double-digit tax increases and bloated government have all been put behind us.
We are rethinking how your government should work. Repurposing existing space, as evidenced by the transformation taking place at the Pomona Health Complex. We are redefining the roles of our employees to better provide services; and refocusing on the needs of our residents so we can grow in the ways the people of Rockland need us to. County government will now have a workforce of 1,707; down 21% since I took office and well below the record high of 3,169 people employed in 1990.
As part of our regular re-evaluation of the needs of our residents, I am extremely proud to announce that we are bringing back a department that was eliminated by the previous administration during the financial crisis. We are restoring the Office for People with Disabilities (OPWD). This Office was eliminated as a separate department in 2007 and the Director retired in 2011 leaving the office defunct.
The charge of the OPWD will be to advocate on behalf of people with disabilities and to ensure they achieve access to all the rights and responsibilities they desire to exercise. They will advise and assist the County Executive’s office, the County Legislature and County agencies in developing policies designed to meet the needs of people with disabilities. OPWD will work hand in glove with our partner community based organizations and our county volunteer board.
The OPWD will also serve as an informational resource for people with disabilities, helping to connect them to available services. We must ensure that everyone has fair access to the services of County Government. In its simplest terms, I believe this is a matter of civil rights, as all are entitled to that both by law and by right as Americans.
The OPWD will be required to submit an annual report to the County Executive and the Rockland County Legislature. I look forward to working closely with the Office for People with Disabilities and our valued agencies in the field to ensure their recommendations and ideas are implemented.