Now, in this season of miracles we have one of our own: A 2017 county budget that sticks to the 1.17 property tax cap, cuts spending and maintains services.
This budget sets the path for a solid and sustainable financial future for our county with no tax increase for most residents.
Best of all?
It’s based on realistic and conservative projections, not the type of smoke-and-mirrors projections that set Rockland County on the course toward fiscal disaster.
I am proud to say that I have stopped the endless tax-and-spend cycle that was taking more and more of your money.
I reversed three years of double-digit tax increases before I took office. And in the past two years, I have cut spending nine percent. That is $67 million of your money.
Just to jog your memory, the county legislature approved budgets with a tax increase of 30 percent in 2012, 18 percent in 2013, 11 percent in 2014 and voted to double my proposed tax increase of 4 percent in 2015 to put in place a 9.9 percent tax increase.
Our credit rating, which was one step above junk when I became county executive, has been upgraded four times during my term.
But our work is not done.
We were able to maintain $16.3 million in funding to many of our nonprofit agencies, including Meals on Wheels, Jawonio, and the Rockland Family, among many others.
But due to inaction on the part of the legislature, the county was not able to provide a total of $1.3 million in funding to some other nonprofits without breaking the state-mandated budget cap.
Let me be very clear: I value the work done by ALL the nonprofits in Rockland. I am ready, willing and able to work with the Legislature to restore funding to the agencies that were left out.
The solution is very simple and it’s located at 18 New Hempstead Road – the Sain Building.
Let the legislature approve a sale to a buyer who has cash in hand and has been patiently waiting for months to pay top dollar for this dilapidated building.
I pledge to work with the legislature to see if we can take some of the $4.51 million from the sale and use a portion of it to restore funding to these nonprofits. The rest of the proceeds will go toward deficit reduction.
Please don’t buy the line the legislative majority is peddling that there is no legal way forward to sell this building. Nonsense.
Here are the facts:
The legislature approved selling this outdated county-owned building nearly 15 months ago when it voted on my 2016 budget that including a projection of $4 million in revenue from the sale of the Sain Building.
My administration advertised the building for sale. That yielded an offer from National Development, a Massachusetts company that specializes in building housing for seniors.
National Development offered $4.51 million – $510,000 above appraised value.
The legislature inexplicably refused to budge, claiming that they did not like the process that results in the bid (even though they took no steps to sell the building)
So the legislature put out its own effort to sell the building, which I did not oppose.
That yielded one bid: from National Development - the same company for the same price.
The legislative majority led by Ramapo Democrat Alden Wolfe still refused to budge.
My administration proposed a local law to allow the sale of the Sain Building for $4.51 million.
Ramapo Democrat Wolfe still refused to budge.
Even this month when Legislative Minority Leader Lon Hofstein proposed taking a vote to declare the Sain Building surplus, the first step toward a sale, Chairman Wolfe refused to allow a vote.
There you have it: 15 months of inaction while a willing buyer with cash in hand gets ready to walk away in frustration.
The nonprofits that are not being funded were left out in the cold because the Legislature failed to consider a resolution to break the tax cap early enough in the process.
The legislature now has a second chance to fund these nonprofits.
If the legislative majority, specifically Chairman Wolfe, really wants to fund these nonprofits, the path is clear: vote to make the Sain Building surplus so we can sell it.
Let’s hope reason will prevail in the New Year