Many people this time of year are resolving to change things in their lives. Whether it be quitting smoking (like I did in 1994), eating healthier, exercising more, saving more money or even learning a new skill or language; these are all worthwhile goals. However, the resolution I am most focused on for Rockland is continuing to everything in my power to make this County the greatest in the state of New York.
Over the last 6 years we have faced many challenges, but we have done what is necessary to get Rockland County back on track. We have rebounded from our $138 million deficit. We are now transitioning from crisis management to a place of stability where we can plan for the continued success of county government and the sustainable growth of Rockland as a whole.
To that end, we are reinvesting in county government infrastructure. After years of making the difficult decisions and putting off everything but the most pressing of investments we have begun and are planning to invest over $100 million in the next 5 years. We are making the best of an unfortunate situation. It was extremely difficult to decide to close the county-run nursing home and hospital but facing a $1.5 million loss each month we did what was necessary.
And now with the passing of our new Shared Space policy we are on the way to creating a true health and human services hub. Seeing that space repurposed and full of new life. Co-locating services with our valued nonprofit agencies will have numerous benefits, improved integration with government services, cost savings for nonprofits and taxpayers, and better meeting the needs of our community.
But as we embark upon this renaissance we are looking to proceed in a sustainable way. We have built a solid foundation and are now able to expand. Working with the County Legislature, we reestablished the Open Space Program, including a $30 Million funding line in the 2020 Capital Budget. We will look for additional funding from Land Trusts, grants and bonding to lessen the cost to local taxpayers.
I am committed to working with the Rockland County Legislature and involved citizens to move forward in a way that not only preserves our natural environment for future generations but does so in a way that is fiscally responsible and fair to our taxpayers.
I will also soon be asking for the involvement of each and every one of us, from elected officials to community and religious groups, as we look for solutions to the concerns of our community. We do not have all of the answers and will be relying on your understanding, openness and communication to bridge the gap.
Above all in 2020, we will not take the easy way out and kick the can down the road by passing costs and problems on to our children and grandchildren. We will continue to make the difficult choices to ensure a bright, sustainable and safe future for the next generations of Rockland residents.