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Rockland County Legislators Pass Budget With First Tax Cut In 11 Years

Rockland Legislature Chairman Alden Wolfe and the legislature approved an amended 2017 budget on Tuesday that would cut taxes for the first time in 11 years.
Rockland Legislature Chairman Alden Wolfe and the legislature approved an amended 2017 budget on Tuesday that would cut taxes for the first time in 11 years. Photo Credit: Contributed

ROCKLAND COUNTY, N.Y. -- The Rockland County Legislature passed a $705 million 2017 budget that for the first time in 11 years provides a modest property tax break for homeowners.

The amendments added to the original budget presented by County Executive Ed Day resulted in a 0.43 percent tax cut next year, the first cut since 2007. The amended budget was approved on Tuesday by an 11-6 vote of county legislators.

The amended budget also restores about $1.3 million for 31 nonprofit organizations, including the Child Care Resources, Keep Rockland Beautiful, the Legal Aid Society, Cornell Cooperative Extension, the NAACP and the Historical Society of Rockland County.

In addition, the Legislature's plan also commits to selling the Sain building, with an estimated revenue of at least $4.5 million. Those funds will be used to create a reserve for deficit reduction.

Tuesday, Day released a statement saying the "proposed amendments include millions of highly suspect and non-existent revenues."

"This will create new deficits and increase taxes next year. It will set us back substantially," he added.

In contrast, Day's $704.5 million proposed budget included a 1.2 percent tax-rate increase, or about $13 a year increase for the average taxpayer.

“This budget is extraordinary and allows us to do so much for taxpayers, both by cutting property taxes and by restoring vital services,” Legislature Chairman Alden H. Wolfe said. “It is the result of hard work, not only this year, but since the financial crisis of nearly a decade ago."

While the county Charter requires the county executive to submit a proposed budget each year, the tasks of appropriating funding and setting policy are the responsibility of the Legislature.

But the fight over the budget is far from over. Now that proposed amendments have been made, the budget goes back to Day who will then have five days to issues any line-item vetoes over contested amendments.

The budget then goes back to the Legislature who have until Dec. 20 to override the vetoes. To do so, the governing body needs 12 votes to override each line-item veto. The Legislature will meet at 7 p.m. Dec. 19 to consider any overrides.

Here is a summary of the adopted budget:

  • Restores funding to nonprofit organizations.
  • Restores two nurses’ aide jobs at the HIV/AIDS Clinic and four jobs in the Health Department’s Petroleum Bulk Storage Inspector Unit.
  • Sets aside funding to cover contractual obligations as recommended by the state comptroller.
  • Commits proceeds from Sain sale to deficit reduction of $4.5 million.
  • Conservatively increases estimated sales tax revenues by $1.5 million to $195.5 million, $1 million less than the amount the Commissioner of Finance and outside auditors estimated for 2016.
  • Eliminates $1,000 per week increase in funding for postage as called for by the county executive.
  • Eliminates a combination of 26 new and vacant positions and restores 13 jobs, including nine layoffs.

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